Tag Archives: Virgin Mary

Visiting the Holy House of Mary in Italy

The simple stone house in which the Virgin Mary was born, where she received the invitaton of an angel at the Annunciation, and lived with the Holy Family, is believed to be in the small coastal town of Loreto in central Italy’s Le Marche region. To the marvel of scientists, the House disappeared from Nazareth, miraculously moved to Croatia, and then later to three different spots in Italy in a way that defies human explanation.

According to historians, after 13 centuries in Nazareth, on May 10, 1291, the house of the Holy Family disappeared overnight, completely undetected, confounding the community. It is believed to have been carried by angels first to the town of Trsat, an area in modern-day Croatia. It baffled the townspeople there on how a house could simply appear overnight. It is remarkable that just three years later, Muslims invaded the land around Nazareth and ransacked everything. Surely the house would have been destroyed.

 Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (September 8, 1774 – February 9, 1824) reported that among her mystical experiences was a recurring vision of the Holy House carried over the sea by seven angels. Historical, scientific, and archeological evidence attests that there is no other logical explanation.

 Four Stops

Father Donald Calloway, vocation director for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and author of five books on the rosary, visited the House of Loreto four years ago. “You get a sense of this being an extraordinary relic and that you are in a very holy place,” he said in an interview with Legatus magazine. “It’s almost overwhelming, like a spiritual generator.”

Father Calloway wrote about the House of Loreto in his newest book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. He explained the path it took before its last resting place in Loreto. The house’s first stop was in Trsat, Croatia. Villagers were amazed that it had no foundation. After three years, it disappeared again on December 10, 1294, leaving only an outline of the spot it had occupied. To this day, a monument marks that spot.

From there it was taken across the Adriatic Sea to the town of Ascoli Piceno, Italy. It was there for only eight months, as robbers had begun stealing from the pilgrims. In August 1295, the house disappeared yet again and reappeared on a hill outside Ascoli Piceno. But the two brothers who owned the land fought over ownership and also exploited tourists for financial gain. So near the end of December 1295, the Holy House was taken to its final location in Loreto.

The History

A year after the house appeared in Loreto, the Catholic Church appointed 16 envoys to investigate. They visited Loreto, Croatia, and Nazareth. At all locations, the measurements of the house were exactly the same with absolutely no discrepancies. In 1469, the Basilica della Santa Casa (Basilica of the Holy House) was built over the Holy House where it still stands today, attracting approximately four million pilgrims annually.

Many saints have visited both before and after it moved. Biographers of Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that he visited the house in 1220 in Nazareth, and Saint Louis, King of France, visited it on the feast of the Annunciation in 1251. Other saints that visited include Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, and Saint Therese of Lisieux.

An inscription from the 16th century on the eastern façade of the Basilica reads: “Christian pilgrim, you have before your eyes the Holy House of Loreto, venerable throughout the world on account of the Divine mysteries accomplished in it and the glorious miracles herein wrought. It is here that most holy Mary, Mother of God was born, here that she was saluted by the Angel, here that the eternal Word of God was made Flesh….”

Scientific Evidence

A scientific study undertaken by Professor Giorgio Nicolini was presented at a conference organized by the “Amici del Timone” Cultural Center in Staggia Senese, Italy on April 24, 2015. His talk was titled “The Story of the Incredible Move of the House of Mary of Nazareth to Loreto.”

Nicolini pointed out the impossibility of transporting the house over sea completely restored, given the poor technological resources of the time. He cited the existence of many documents and eyewitness accounts and noted that the chemical composition of the house’s stones, wood, and mortar are unique to the region of Nazareth and non-existent in all of Italy.

Detractors have claimed that a wealthy family had dismantled the house and transported it brick by brick at the request of the Crusaders, then rebuilt the house in Loreto. “Such an operation, with the transportation conditions of the 13th century, would have been a more miraculous feat than the angelic translation,” Nicolini said.

Last year, Pope Francis became one of almost 50 popes who have visited or written about the House. He prayed at an altar built into the house on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2019. Then in October, he designated December 10 on the universal calendar as the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. The decree stated that this new feast day “will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of the perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

WHAT TO SEE: What the children saw

Harvey Keitel, Stephanie Gil, Goran Visnjic, Sônia Braga, Joaquim de Almeida
100 min • Not Rated

The familiar story of the 1917 appearances of the Virgin Mary to three young shepherd children in Portugal receives a beautiful big-screen treatment in the new 2020 drama Fatima, scheduled for release to theaters everywhere on April 24.

It’s an immensely satisfying film in that it conveys the incredible events and the reported messages from Mary with simplicity and sincerity. The children are portrayed with delightful realism, their families and townspeople believably exhibit various degrees of bewilderment and credulity, and the Virgin radiantly regards her young subjects with obvious deep love and even a little amusement. To the film’s credit, the apparitions and miracles are not given a Hollywood special-effects treatment, which surprisingly makes these scenes that much more moving.

Although Our Lady of Fatima is an approved devotion and has borne great fruit in the lives of many of the faithful, as private revelation there is no obligation for Catholics to believe in the Fatima apparitions or their related messages. In interspersed scenes set in a convent many decades later, Fatima gives voice to the skeptics in the person of an unbelieving journalist who visits Sister Lucia in her cloister to interview her for a book he is writing. The saintly nun answers his objections with grace and cordiality, even if unsatisfyingly in some instances.

Even if one finds the story of Fatima and its “miracle of the sun” too incredible to accept, the historical record is clear: something wonderful happened here, witnessed not only by three shepherd children but also by tens of thousands of onlookers, and something wonderful continues to happen in the hearts and lives of those who respond positively to the Virgin of Fatima’s call — to turn away from sin, to devote oneself to her Immaculate Heart, and to pray the rosary for peace in the world and the salvation of souls.

Make the effort to take your family to see this movie when it comes to your local theater this Easter season.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.


How truth regarding Jesus’ birth affects us today

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” — John 3:16

During this wondrous season, while Christians around the world proclaim the most significant event in human history, that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” its real significance is often missed.

Have you ever stopped to think about the deeper meaning of the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus? His birth was the birth of the most unique Person in history – the incarnation of God Himself, the mingling of God with humanity. As the greatest testimony of His love, the Father has His only Son become man to heal us from everything that separates us from Him – to save us from our sins. In this way, Jesus merits for us the dignity of becoming children of God, allowing us to cry out, Abba Father.

This great love story is retold every year and portrayed in the Christmas creche, which focuses our reflection, contemplation, and gratitude upon the wonder and beauty of our Savior’s birth. It is hard to imagine Christmas without this humble scene and its profound teaching of the heavenly Father’s love for His children.

The origin of the Christmas creche rests with St. Francis of Assisi. It is said that St. Francis lived daily with great joy the wonder and awe of the Incarnation of the Son of God and His blessed and humble birth. The meek saint would often shed tears of heartfelt gratitude, praising the divine Son who took upon Himself our human nature to reveal His Father and to reconcile all things and destroy the power of sin and death forever.

This event is the central moment in human history, which has changed forever our understanding of earthly realities. One reality is how we look upon the sanctity of human life. Jesus’ body was formed in the womb of Mary: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The eternal Son of God came into the world in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, thus blessing the womb of every woman and the precious life of every child. The ministry of Jesus didn’t begin at His birth but at His conception.

Despite this, life at every stage – from conception to natural death – is under siege. We cry and protest for the children who are impeded from being born, for the millions of children born and left to die from hunger and sickness, for the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and the disabled. Yet, amid our weary struggle with these injustices, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the wonder of the Incarnation, its significance, and its power to tranform:

“The action of God, in fact, is not limited to words, indeed we might say he is not content only to speak but is immersed in our history and takes on the fatigue and weight of human life.”

The unapproachable God became approachable and is fully expressed – a God of love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory. If we lose perspective on the essential truths that are bound up in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord Jesus, we lose sight of the Gospel and its revealed truth about life, the human person, and our eternal destiny.

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International www.hli.org and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

“Cosmo Girl” is concocted derision of Our Lady

Since Editor Helen Gurley Brown (1922-2012) redesigned Cosmopolitan for the Hearst Corporation in 1965, the magazine has masqueraded as a feminist vehicle for women’s “liberation.”

Yet Betty Friedan, who launched modern feminism in1963 with the publication of The Feminine Mystique, called Cosmo “quite obscene and quite horrible.” Friedan said any view of female liberation that reduces a woman to a sex object (as Cosmo does) is a false freedom that denies a woman’s full personhood. What’s more, freeing a woman to express her full personhood in all aspects of life (motherhood included) was what Friedan said the women’s movement was all about.

How a woman consciously or unconsciously defines her personhood affects all the other decisions, large or small, she will make in her life. So how does Cosmo define a woman’s personhood?

Answering this fundamental question requires examining the view of a woman’s personhood presented by Alfred Kinsey in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). A zoologist by training, Kinsey spoke of a woman as a “human animal.” Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed that in Kinsey’s view there was no difference between a man having relations with a woman or a sheep.

Kinsey’s view of a woman as a pleasure-seeking animal without a soul entered our culture partly through magazines like Cosmopolitan. As a counterpart to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, Gurley Brown invented “the Cosmo girl,” a fictitious persona designed to sell cosmetics, clothes, contraceptives, and other wares to women ages 18 to 34.

When I wrote articles for Cosmo in the 1970s and 80s, the Cosmo girl had to follow certain unspoken rules to be considered “sophisticated” and “smart.” She had to be sexually active, use contraceptives, and have free access to abortion.

Yet there were two things our reader couldn’t do if she wanted to be “free.” She couldn’t be a virgin or a mother. In other words, she couldn’t resemble Mary, virgin and mother. In ways that I failed to see at the time, Cosmo’s view of a woman’s personhood involved an unseen-but-direct attack on Our Lady.

The good news is that Cosmo has taken what would otherwise be an invisible problem — Kinsey’s reduction of a woman’s personhood to that of a soulless animal — and has made this corrupted view of femininity visible. All-toofrequently in our fallen world, the differences between truth and error lie hidden and silent. In this case, thanks to the Hearst Corporation’s skilled marketers, the contrast between truth and error is fully visible and being shouted to the skies.

On Cosmo’s covers on every magazine rack, it’s evident (particularly in many of the models’ eyes) how angry, sad, frightened, and empty women feel when they’re falsely reduced to mere sex objects. Conflicted within, the Cosmo girl is always having problems with men because she’s always having problems within herself. Her interior life is in turmoil. There is no true happiness here.

To reveal the truth, girls can be shown images of “liberation” being foisted off by the Hearst Corporation. And these ugly images can be contrasted with the incomparable beauty in the light-filled icons of Our Lady: the authentic model for all persons (men and women alike) who long to be fully human and to be set truly free.

Next time you spot a Cosmo cover while standing in a checkout line, don’t be disturbed. Simply recognize the unseen war being fought, and silently say a “Hail Mary” to the Virgin Mother, our leader in battle. The good news is that her victory is assured. God’s Truth about a woman’s personhood is real, and Cosmo’s lies are only made of dust.

SUE ELLEN BROWDER has published hundreds of magazine articles, and was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. Her latest book is Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius).