Tuesday, December 14, 2010

44. RETRO-SANTO: Nstra. Sñra. De Loreto

LADY OF THE HOUSE. The Loreto image of Sampaloc, brough to the country in the early part of the 19th century. Photo ca. 1920s

One of the more unusual representations of the Virgin and the Child Jesus is the one venerated under the title of Our Lady of Loreto. It shows Mary standing over the house representing the Holy House of Loreto (Santa Casa di Loreto) . Legend has it that when Nazareth was overrun by Moors during the Crusades in 1292, the angels brought over the humble brick house where Jesus grew up to Italy—first to Tersatto, then to Recamati and finally to Loreto, in southern Italy.

The image of Our Lady of Loreto was brought to the Philippines in 1813, where it was taken to the church of Sampaloc. It shows Mary holding the Child Jesus with her right hand and a short golden scepter on the other. The devotion quickly spread among the residents in that said Manila district, but suffered a setback with the destruction of the church on two occasions: during the Chinese Rebellion of 1639 and the Liberation of Manila in 1945.

The devotion has flourished to this day at the Loreto shrine on Bustillos Street in Sampaloc. Incidentally, it was in the Holy House of Loreto that the Litany of Our Lady (a forty one invocation addressed to her) was first sung and then universally used, with other invocations added through the years.

Today, the Basilica of Loreto houses a small chapel of gold and white where the Holy House of Loreto is kept. In 1910, Our Lady of Loreto became the patron saint of pilots, because of the tradition of the house's flight from Nazareth. On September 8, the traditional birthdate of the Virgin Mary, aviators gather at the shrine in Loreto to pray and participate in a colorful procession.

Her feast day is celebrated every 10th of December.

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