December 10th, 1294, in the area of Loreto, Italy (across the Adriatic Sea and southwest of Tersatto,) shepherds reported seeing a house in the sky, flying across the sea, supported by Angels. They reported, one of the Angels (Michael) wore a red cape, and seemed to be leading the others. They saw our Lady and the Baby Jesus seated on top of the house. The Angels continued inland, about four miles, and landed with their precious house and its Royal Passengers into a wooded area called Banderuola.
The news spread, quickly drawing many people to pilgrimage to the House in Banderuola. But they were not all working on the same agenda. Robbers came to waylay, rob, and beat the pilgrims. The faithful stopped coming, and the house quickly fell into neglect.
The Angels, who had been put in charge of protecting the House, lifted it again and set it down on a small hill in the middle of a farm. The only problem was, this land was owned by two brothers, named Antici, who began fighting immediately over ownership of the house.
So the Angels moved the house, a third time, to another hill. They placed it in the middle of a road, the site it occupies now, and has for the last 700 years. Tradition tells us that as soon as the house moved off the brothers’ property, they became the best of friends. The Angels had moved the Holy House three times in one year.
The people of Recanati and Loreto didn’t know exactly what they had there. They knew it was a church, and it had appeared miraculously. They knew about its movement, from place to place, the first year it was there. They’d heard reports of the multitudes of miracles taking place as a result of praying at the church. That was about as much as they knew. But in 1296, that was all to change. Two years after it had landed in Loreto, our Lady appeared to a very holy man, Paul of the woods, a hermit. She explained the origin of the house, and concluded with these words,
“It remained in the city of Nazareth, to the great consolation of Christians until, by the permission of God, those who reverenced this Holy House were expelled from the city by the arms of the infidels. And since no honor was any longer paid to it, and it was in evident danger of being profaned by the infidels in contempt of the Christian name, it seemed good to my beloved Son to translate it from Nazareth to Illiria (Yugoslavia) by the hands of Angels, and afterwards, to remove it to your land.”
Paul of the Woods took the story to the people of Recanati, who, being aware of the miracles that had taken place at the House, sent a group of sixteen men, first to Tersatto, and then to Nazareth, to check out the authenticity of the House. The team of experts took with them, all the measurements and full details, of the House in Loreto.
Experts set out to verify the authenticity of the Holy House
The team’s first stop: Tersatto. The villagers verified, indeed, that the House had been there and (as with the House in Loreto) it had had walls of a reddish colored stone and were about sixteen inches in thickness. When they measured the facsimile that had been built in Tersatto, in remembrance of the Holy House, they discovered that it measured the same as the Holy House in Loreto – thirty-one and a quarter feet long by thirteen feet four inches wide by twenty-eight feet high. They spoke of it having one door which, again as in the House in Loreto. was seven feet high with a four and a half foot wide opening. It too, had had one window. They described the earthenware vessels that the Italians, too, had found in the House. Their depiction of the statue of the Holy Mother and the Infant Jesus could not have been more perfect.
The investigators went on to Nazareth. There they would discover whether the House was really that of the Annunciation. The measurements of the foundation, in Nazareth, were exactly the dimensions of the House in Loreto and the facsimile that had been built in Tersatto. After a period of about six months, the investigators returned to Loreto, and affirmed the authenticity of the House.
In the years that followed, more inquiries were made. They found coins beneath the House, not only from the area of Nazareth but also from the period it resided in the Holy Land. Stones and soil, used for the grouting of the house, were found to be identical with those found in Nazareth, from that level of civilization.
When you journey to the Holy Land, you can still visit homes very similar to this house of the Holy Family. In Nazareth, people still live, like the holy carpenter and his Family, in modest one room homes where they eat as well as sleep. They have only one cupboard, just as Mary had, to keep cups and plates. As you look at her cupboard which is still in the Holy House in Italy, to the left of the altar, it is difficult to come to terms with the truth that in this humble, unpretentious house, the True Royal Family, our Holy Family ate and slept, prayed and shared, were Family!
As we brush against the ancient stone walls of the House, we can almost touch Mother Mary as she goes about her duties as a Wife, a faithful one. As our eyes travel to the window (the Angel’s window), across from the altar, we can hear Mary, the Daughter, obeying the Will of Her Father. We can cry and laugh, hope and pray with our Mother, a loving, caring and protective Mother. Sometimes a Sister, sometimes a Mother, always a Friend, Mary is so touchable, so one of us, so like us in all things except in sin. We could spend days at this shrine, just meditating on the importance of this house in our lives, as we dare dream and walk through the thirty years Jesus spent here.