Loreto and the Flying Holy House

The strange – ridiculous – story of Loreto intrigued me so much that I had to go to see it. The home of the Virgin Mary miraculously found its way to Loreto carried by angels, and landed in an olive grove. 200 years later a fantastically sculpted white marble cube was created to house the little building, and then over it the great architects of the following centuries -Bramante, Sansovino et al – vied with each other in the construction of a glorious domed basilica. Loreto was set to become an important pilgrim site.

We were there in time to witness one of the outdoor blessings in the Piazza della Madonna. First came a long procession of wheelchairs, each invalid carrying a bouquet. Then came all the nurses dressed in white, about 50 or 60 of them. Boy Scouts and girl guides preceded the bishop under a golden canopy.

With such a story of a flying house, there’s no wonder that Lindbergh took an image of the Madonna of Loreto with him when he flew across the Atlantic in 1927. She had become the patron saint of aviators.

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