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Oratory of Madonna di Loreto (in San Pantalon)

San Pantalon

Continuing with our visit to the church of San Pantalon…when you leave the Capella del Santo Chiodo, turn right and go back to this very quiet and dark oratory. It’s a recreation of the Santa Casa (Holy House) that can be found in Loreto, Italy.

This is another great story. The Santa Casa was Mary’s house in Nazareth, where she was born and grew up, and where the Annunciation took place. Her house was a Holy Land place of pilgrimage for centuries but then in the 13th century, angels swooped in, picked the house up, and moved it to Italy. In some versions of the story, it stopped off in Croatia and elsewhere first, but it‘s now in Loreto where they built a basilica around it. A photo of the Basilica of Loreto and a more complete version of the story is here. December 10 (this weekend) will be the annual celebration of the house’s flight to Loreto.

Evidently, there’s some scientific evidence that the Santa Casa really did come from Nazareth, and some think that “human” angels dismantled it and brought it to Italy after the Holy Land fell into Muslim hands in the Middle Ages. And in the early 20th century, the Madonna di Loreto became the patron saint of pilots; Charles Lindbergh carried her image with him across the Atlantic and she also went on an Apollo mission to the moon.

So in the 18th century, the Venetians decided to re-create the Santa Casa in the church of San Pantalon. The oratory was consecrated on March 25, 1744 (no accident on this choice of dates, I’m sure, since March 25 is the feast of the Annunciation and also the day that Venice was founded in 421).

The Black Madonna on the altar is a copy of the one in Loreto; the inscription on the altar screen translates to “And the Word is Made Flesh.” The frescoes were done by Pietro Longhi, best known for his charming scenes of 18th century Venetian daily life. It’s a strange and fascinating little place; I loved visiting it.

San Pantalon

Fresco detail~

San Pantalon

An old woodcut showing the angels moving the Santa Casa~


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Comments (5)

what a wonderful story. I love all the little details such as the Madonna on the Apollo flight. I'm looking forward to seeing the Casa.


I must check this out next time we're there. We pick up so much from you Annie. Many thanks. We have our own 'little house of Nazareth' here in the UK in a Norfolk village called Walsingham. We make a pilgimage there every Spring. Check it out on Wikipedia.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful post. I loved the thought of angels "swooping" down and carrying the casa to Italy. Very cool to learn how the Madonna was carried by Linbergh across the atlantic and on a Apollo flight. The frescos are beautiful.

Thanks so much for the wonderful read this morning.

Very interesting story and wonderful photographs.

It is a shame about the photohunters confusion. I think what happened is Gattina let TN chick know right away she'd like to host and went ahead and set up a theme list and came up with a badge. I appreciated her efforts to keep it going. Gattina didn't realize TN chick was having a vote for hosts, until I happened to see that and let her know what was going on, after the fact. I think a lot of people didn't go back to TN chicks site after she announced she wasn't hosting anymore but I had her in my feed reader and eventually saw she was having a vote. Oh well . . . We can always visit photohunters who aren't necessarily using the same theme, if there's more than one group. Variety being the spice of life and all. Happy weekend.

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

And Andrew, thanks for introducing me to Our Lady of Walsingham! How fascinating. I've looked at a bunch of photos on the web. I'd love to make a pilgrimage there too!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 8, 2011 12:28 PM.

The previous post in this blog was San Pantalon.

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