This image hangs in the Chapel of the Dukes of Urbino, in one of the side chapels of the Basilica of Loreto. There are more than 25 side chapels, each a masterpiece of the Catholic Faith. The Annunciation is a popular image in the chapels because the Holy House of Loreto which is actually Mary's House of Nazareth is so closely associated with the First Mystery of the Rosary. This image also appears in the Annunciation Gallery.
Loreto: Sanctuary of the Incarnation
Msgr. Vincenzo Faraoni
THE SANCTUARY of Loreto has always been regarded as the greatest Sanctuary of the Christian West. Practically all the Supreme Pontiffs from the year 1330 to John Paul II have considered it so. As such it has been venerated by thousands upon thousands of the faithful coming from every land who come to kiss the walls of what was at one time the Holy House of Nazareth.
This Sanctuary, the glory and pride of Italy, is truly a part of the Holy Land. It is the first temple of the living God on earth, the sanctuary of sanctuaries, the temporal paradise on earth. "Hic Verbum caro factum est" (Here the Word was made flesh.) The thrill that pervades the pilgrim who reads these words is not a simple emotion but an indefinable and irresistible attraction towards the heights of the Infinite.
In coming to the Loreto Basilica for the first time, no one thinks of the imposing lines of the basilica, of the cupola of Sangallo, of the marble structure that surrounds the Holy House [see images listed on the directory page, loreto.htm]; no one recalls the beautiful facade, the beautiful fountains, the welcoming double Loggia of the apostolic palace that encloses the square of Roman serenity. The apses of the chapels rise as gigantic bulwarks crowned by a passage for sentinels dominating the hills and the sea. Are enemy armies coming by land? Are pirates still threatening from the sea? No. The formidable towers of the apses defend and hide the rectangular structure of sculptured marble that portrays prophets and Angels, the biblical world and the classical world, foretelling the Incarnation. And this jewel of art in turn protects and conceals the poor room recalling to mind the great mystery of Mary. "Hic Verbum caro factum est."
These bare and naked walls heard the "yes" of Mary, that mysterious assent which opened Paradise to misfortunate humanity, stained and wounded by Original and actual sin. It saw the flourishing infancy and adolescence of Jesus, the serene work of Joseph, the sweet and gentle relations of the Holy Family. That humble and unknown girl from a humble and unknown land was greeted as "full of grace." Here, she heard the eternal God ask her consent to fulfill the greatest mystery of all time-----the Incarnation of the Word. God had chosen her alone because of her humble virginity and her virginal humility to be the "light of the East"-----so sang the Prophets-----from which the Redeemer would appear in the world. And the Word of God was made flesh through her liberating words: "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum." (Be it done to me according to Thy Word.") At the creation of the universe, the "fiat" of the omnipotent God was enough. For the redemption of mankind, God asked the "fiat" of this little Virgin, His favored and Immaculate One, so that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity could be made man, through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. It was in this Holy House of Loreto, transplanted miraculously from Nazareth, that the eternal Word was made flesh. Indeed, as Pope Pius XI expressed it, this shrine "holds the first place among all the churches dedicated to the Mother of God." Thus, we are children of two "fiats": created by the first, redeemed by the second and therefore sons of God and sons of the Virgin. From the "fiat" of God, our human nature was created, from the "fiat" of Nazareth, grace was restored. Here then was accomplished the greatest event in history for Christ is indeed the center of the universe, of history, of theology, of all life. Vito Fornari writes: "The universe inasmuch as it is a mystery knows and explains everything, because everything is a sign of Christ-----or yearning for Christ; He is the reason and truth of everything. He is the ultimate purpose for the entire planetary system as well as for the atom, for the human species as well as for a blade of grass or a flower." History shows everything in the continuous advancing of the ship of Christ: "from the lake of Tiberias to the Mediterranean Sea, to the ocean; from the ocean to the infinite heavens without distinction of worlds or succession of time." And French poet Peguy adds: "The incarnation, this eternal adventure of God, of the Word, is the only interesting story." Full of emotion we therefore enter the Holy House and with the faith of love and the love of faith let us kiss those burnished walls, brighter and clearer than the sun.
Taken from Loreto Magazine
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