Mary's Magick Mansion

The Catholic Church proposes a great number of dead people for worship (dulia) or, as just about any Catholic apologist will argue, veneration. Even objects used or touched by the demigods the Roman church calls saints are objects of veneration. Wonderful powers of healing are associated with many of these objects, such as splinters of wood claimed to be from the cross upon which Christ died. Of course, as the Catholic champion will quickly inform, the healing comes from God through faith. Think about that. If the healing comes from God, why is it necessary to pray before or be touched by a splinter of wood? Sounds like witchcraft to me.

The Catholic Church has a thing about body parts. Human remains figure prominently in the doctrine and practice of the RCC. Church officials pass out bits and pieces of dead 'saints' to churches in order that they might be worshipped (dulia) by Catholic faithful. Some churches are fortunate (?) to have large body parts, perhaps even entire bodies available for veneration and to help channel prayers.

Catholic faithful kneel in prayer before body parts, not just of their saints, but even of the Man Jesus. At the beginning of the 20th century, the prepuce of Baby Jesus – miraculously saved and multiplied – was available for worship in 18 different churches in Europe.

Until the new Missae Romanae was promulgated, it was a requirement that at least one 1st class relic be installed in every Catholic altar. Think about it. Every time a Catholic priest celebrated Mass, he did it on the bones of a dead Catholic saint. Seems ghoulish, doesn't it? The ceremonies involved in consecrating a new altar in a new church certainly appear pagan to me. I wrote an article on that process a while back. I'll post it again here in a day or two.

Catholics worship (dulia) interesting things other than body parts of dead people. There is, for example, the Spear of Longinus, claimed to be the one used to pierce Christ's side as He hung on the cross. According to Catholic fantasy, those who hold the spear will not lose in battle. This spear is now in one of the pillars of the great altar at St. Peter's in Rome, in the Austrian National Museum in Vienna, and was also claimed to be kept in Britain's Alconbury Abbey, along with a vial of the Virgin Mary's breast milk. Then there's stuff that supposedly belonged to Ireland's St. Brigid, who supposedly died around 525. Brigid's tunic, or so it is claimed, is on display at Saint Donatian's in Bruges, Belgium; and a relic of her jewel-encrusted silver and brass shoe is in Dublin's National Museum.

As an example of the curious things Catholics do with body parts, there's the tale of three knights who set out for the Holy Land in 1283. They took with them the head of St. Brigid, or so they believed. Whatever they expected the grisly trophy to do for them, it apparently didn't work, since all three died in Portugal. Folks in the town of Lumier, Portugal built a special chapel in which the head is enshrined. What makes this story particularly interesting is that, in the 1960's, the Bollandists, charged to authenticate Catholic saints, declared there was no evidence to support the claim that St. Brigid ever existed, yet her shoe, her tunic and her head provide destinations for many a religious pilgrimage even today. As does her grave in Ireland.

One of the most wonderful of all the fantasy things that Catholicism venerates is the House of Loreto. This building, said to be the very house in which Catholicism's principal deity was born, has a most remarkable story. That anyone could believe the story is even more remarkable, yet it is an important shrine for credulous Catholics.

Depending upon which account one reads, the magic house of Loreto was either the home in which the Virgin Mary was born and raised, or the family home of Joseph, Mary and Jesus – bearing in mind that Catholics do not admit to the biblical record of Jesus' siblings by Mary. Of course, I suppose it could have been both Mary's birthplace and her connubial home.

As the 13th Century drew to a close, the fortunes of Christendom in the Holy Land were deteriorating rapidly. For a couple of centuries, a number of crusades had kept the infidels at bay, thereby helping to maintain a Latin presence there. The last crusade was a total failure and, in 1291, Saracens took control of the land that was home to the most holy sites of the Christian faith.

Not to worry. If Catholics could no longer safely travel to the holy places, the places would be brought to them – at least one of them would. That's the story, anyway. And so, in the dark hours of Christendom, Catholic legend informs that God determined to miraculously transport the house in which Mary was born and/or in which she lived with Joseph and Jesus from Nazareth to a rural area of Dalmatia, in what came to be a part of Yugoslavia (I don't know what the area is called in today's rapidly changing geo-political scene). As is not unusual for Catholic miracles, the wonderful event was witnessed by a few simple folk who apparently had a lot of free time on their hands.

Before describing the events of the translation of the Holy House, it would be well to learn some of its history. As you read the following, try to keep the dates straight in your mind. The story begins with Constantine's defeat of Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge in 312. The night before the battle, Constantine reportedly had a vision of a cross in the sky and heard the words,”In Hoc Signo Vinces” (Under this sign you will win). Constantine had his soldiers paint crosses on their shields and, by golly, his outnumbered troops won a devastating victory. The Roman Senate proclaimed Constantine as Augustus Maximus (Supreme Emperor), giving him authority over the remaining two emperors of the Tetrarch.

Following his victory at the Milvian Bridge, Constantine appears to have considered himself to be Christian and, it seems, head of the Christian church. To my mind, Constantine was about as Christian as is the current Pope. In 313, Constantine and co-emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, a decree that guaranteed religious freedom to Christians throughout the Roman Empire in these words:

"we should let both the Christians and all others follow whatever religion they wish to, so that whatever God there is in heaven may be happy and pleased with us and with all our subjects."

Constantine's Christianity appears to have had little to do with Christ, being primarily concerned with political issues. Since the God of the Christians helped him win battles, or so he believed, then he was going to worship the Christian God. The emperor began writing letters to Christian bishops about church controversies and kept a few bishops at court to advise him concerning Christian matters. His advisors counseled that he should donate lots of land and money to the Church. They also informed the emperor that God did not want the Church to pay taxes. Desirous of keeping the Christian God on his side, Constantine followed their advice.

By the year 324, the Christian Emperor Constantine had consolidated all power in his own hands by eliminating Licinius, the last of the Tetrarchs. He then made a tour of his eastern provinces and decided to build a new city to be the capital of the Empire. In founding his new city, named after himself, he let everyone know that it would be a Christian city, and not like Rome, which still was the center of the old Roman religion.

Constantine had brought his mother, erstwhile Britannic barmaid Helena, to court and bestowed upon her the title Augusta. Whatever the nature of the emperor's professed Christianity, according to early church historian Eusebius, his influence led Helena to the Christian faith:

{His mother} became under {Constantine's} influence such a devout servant of God, that one might believe her to have been from her very childhood a disciple of the Redeemer of mankind. – Eusebius, Vita Constantini, III, xlvii

According to Catholic hagiology, Helena traveled around the Western Empire, building churches in Rome and Trier. Then, when she was in her middle 70's, she decided to take a trip to the Holy Land, where she could walk the paths that Jesus trod. Fables of the Roman Church ascribe all manner of wonderful things to Helena. She may have been up in years, but she must have been a ball of fire. Some say that she discovered the spear that the Roman soldier used to pierce Christ's side as He hung from the cross. Not only that, but she is claimed to have found the actual cross upon which Christ was immolated.

The respected Catholic Encyclopedia informs, calling upon the words of Eusebius, that it was in the Holy Land where

she had resolved to bring to God, the King of kings, the homage and tribute of her devotion. She lavished on that land her bounties and good deeds, she "explored it with remarkable discernment", and "visited it with the care and solicitude of the emperor himself". Then, when she "had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Saviour", she had two churches erected for the worship of God: one was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.” - J.P. Kirsch, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, "St. Helene,"© 1910 by Robert Appleton Company, Online Edition © 2008 by Levin Knight

With this background, let us now examine the Fable of the Fabulous Flying House. Every time I research topics like Flying Houses, I am struck by the inconsistencies and contradictions in the source documents. It is as though Catholic writers, lacking information, are not at all reluctant to make things up as they go, or to twist earlier accounts to fit their project. This certainly is the case with the pseudo facts relating to Mary's birthplace and home. One Catholic source informs that, though the Saracens desecrated churches and sites sacred to Christians when they defeated the last of the Crusaders, Mary's house escaped desecration. Why was that?

Fortunately when Constantine had the first Basilica built over the holy spot in 312 - the house along with the grotto that was attached was interred within a subterranean crypt. And it survived the desecration. - Sister Katherine Maria, M.I.C.M., The Holy House of Loreto , © 1997-2001, Saint Benedict Center

See the conflict? Though Constantine was one of the Tetrarchs of Rome, his territory was not anywhere near the Holy Land. In fact, he did not enter Rome until he had defeated another of the Tetrarch emperors, Maxentius, in 312. Also, as reported by the Catholic Encyclopedia, his mommy didn't travel to the Holy Land until around 324. When she went there, Helena caused two churches to be built.

In the Fall of 2000, the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offered a class, Arch 311, on Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, taught by Vasilis Marinis. The online study material for that class credits Constantine with having constructed two edifices in the Holy Land:

Jerusalem -- Holy Sepulchre complex; begun ca. 325-6; consecrated in 336. The basilica built by Zenobius (Syrian name) and presbyter Eustathios (from Constantinople) who seem to have been the architects. The complex was built on Golgotha, the site of Christ's Crucifixion, Entombment, and Resurrection; the most important site of the Christian world (considered the center of the Christian universe). . .

Bethlehem -- Church of the Nativity; finished by 333. A five-aisled basilica without galleries, preceded by an atrium and followed by an octagonal structure centered over the Cave of the Nativity.

Neither of these buildings was on the site of Mary's alleged birthplace in Jerusalem, and both were begun more than a decade later than the date Sister Katherine Maria gave for the building of the “first Basilica” built on the site. Another Catholic source, the Passionists, provide somewhat different information.

As far back as the 5th century a church was built on the traditional site of her birth in Jerusalem on the site of the pool of Bethsaida, (John 5,1-9) near the Temple and a feast in honor of Mary's birth was celebrated.--The Passionists

Are they saying that Mary was born in the pool of Bethsaida? Not at all, but very near to it. An Israeli source fleshes out the details:

According to one Christian tradition, the Virgin Mary was born in a cave near the Bethesda pool where her son Jesus would one day perform miracles of faith. The Crusaders believed that a grotto they discovered next to the reservoir ruins was Mary's birthplace, the home of her parents Anne and Joachim. They incorporated the cave into a powerfully impressive church named for Jesus' grandmother and Mary's mother, Anne.

Unlike other Crusader churches, St. Anne's was not destroyed by the Mamelukes who captured the Holy Land in the twelfth century. Instead, Mameluke commander Saladin converted St. Anne's Church into an Islamic seminary and left it whole. If you read Arabic you will find the name Salahiya (of Saladin) in an inscription above the entrance. Today St. Anne's belongs to the French government and is run by the White Fathers, an order of the Catholic church named for the color of their robes - Aviva Bar-Am, Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem

Another contradiction? Sister Katherine Maria claimed the Basilica built over Mary's birthplace “survived the desecration,” yet Aviva Bar-Am reports that the church was made into an Islamic seminary by Saladin. The conquerors even inscribed the property with their leader's name. Katherine Maria offers no evidence to support her claim, but Bar-Am can at least point to the inscription carved in stone above the church entrance. Can there be two different versions of the same truth? I think not. Let's turn to the guardians of St. Anne's church, the French White Fathers, to see if they can shed some light on this mystery.

Once Christianity became the established religion in Jerusalem, having ousted paganism, the pagan temple of Aesculapius {at the Pool Bethsaida} was not allowed to continue. As in many other situations where a popular religion had created a danger for Christianity, one place of worship was built over another to replace it. A basilica was built in the last quarter of the 5th century AD. to erase the last signs of paganism. The fact that it was only the fifth Christian church to be built in Jerusalem would seem to demonstrate the importance of the original pagan sanctuary. However, in 614 the Persians set fire to the church but it was restored not long afterwards. Apparently the basilica remained intact until the early 11th century when a large number of the churches in Jerusalem were destroyed. Remains of this basilica can be seen at the site of the excavations.

Towards the end of the 11th century, the Crusaders built a small chapel over the fifth century basilica ruins and the apse still towers above the excavations today. However, in 1140 the Crusaders built another church, slightly southeast of the present excavations, which is still standing and greatly admired by many pilgrims.

In 1192 Salah Ed Din turned this new church into a madrasah (school of Koranic law) and thereby it repeatedly escaped destruction. However, it was not until 1856 that it became a Christian shrine again. – Denis Starkey W.F., The White Fathers In Jerusalem

Looks to me like there was no Christian church over the alleged birthplace of Mary, but in fact there was a pagan temple at the site until the 5th century. The early church built over the temple was destroyed by Persians in the 7th century, but soon rebuilt. It was again destroyed in the 11th century. In that same century, Crusaders built a chapel on the ruins and, in 1140 put up a new church. In 1192, Muslims turned the church into a madrasah which, apparently, it continued to be for nearly seven centuries. Offhand, I'd say the church(es) at the alleged site of Mary's birth certainly were desecrated by Muslims.

So. I'd say there is strong traditional support for the argument that the Virgin Mary was born in Jerusalem, at a site that has been marked by a church building since the 5th century. The exact spot were Mary was born is said to be in a crypt below the church.

The crypt is reached by descending down a broad flight of steps. This leads to a tiny chapel with a domed ceiling and here we find an altar dedicated to the birth of Our Lady. Originally this was a cave which the Crusaders regarded as the spot where Mary was born, following the Eastern Christian tradition which claims that Mary was born in Jerusalem near the pool of Bethesda. - Denis Starkey, Op. cit.

And in a 'special' place within that crypt is, as might be expected, a Catholic idol.

In the Crypt of St. Anne's Basilica, a statue of the Infant Mary is venerated on what is believed to be the exact spot where Our Lady was born. Their great reverence for Our Lady precluded the Moslems from destroying her birthplace – Fr. Ladis J. Cizik, Our Lady and Islam: Heaven's Peace Plan

There is a second alleged birthplace of Mary in Jerusalem, a house, not too far from St. Anne's. There is secular support for Mary's having been born in Sepphoris:

Her sources are wide-ranging, from a scientific text on molecular evolution to scholarly speculation on the impact of the culture of the ancient city of Sepphoris on Jesus' ministry. In the excavated city, which traditionally is believed to be the birthplace of the Virgin Mary, archaeologists have uncovered a beautiful theater. Scholars speculate that exposure to the theater and Greek ideas associated with it may have shaped Jesus into the sort of teacher who used theatrical imagery in his sermons. Cecile S. Holmes, Houston Chronicle Religion Editor, review of Faith on Trial, by Pamela Binnings Ewen,

Trying to figure out where Mary was born gets confusing, doesn't it? Perhaps a Catholic priest, a Passionist, can clarify things for us:

A well-known tradition says she was born in Jerusalem, the daughter of Joachim and Ann. Other early sources say Mary was born in Nazareth. There is even an ancient record that points to Sepphoris, a town a few miles from Nazareth, as her birthplace - Victor Hoagland, C.P, Mary, The Mother of Jesus, Compassion, 1988

That didn't help much. Let's hear from another Catholic source:

As to where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born, one tradition tells us it was in a house in Nazareth, the same house in which the Annunciation took place. Another tradition tells us that the place of birth of Mary was beneath the Crusader Church of St. Anna in Jerusalem, under a third century Oratory known as the "Gate of Mary Birth of Mary, homily for September 8, 2001, Catholic Doors Ministry

The homilist provides more detailed information in a homily written for the same feast in the year 2000:

One may wonder, where was the Virgin Mary born? Since the Holy Bible does not provide us with the answer to that question, we have to turn to the early Church traditions to determine what the Christians believed in those days. Church documents tell us that three different traditions have survived since ancient times.

Based on the first tradition that goes back to the writing of "De nativ. S. Mariae" around A.D. 580, the Blessed Virgin Mary was born in Bethlehem. The belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born, educated and greeted by the angel in the Holy House of Loreto has been supported in the Bulls of a number of popes over the centuries. (Paul II, 1471; Julius II, 1507; Leo X, 1519; Paul III, 1535; Pius IV, 1565; Sixtus V, 1586; and Innocent XII, 1698.) These Papal Bulls were not affirming any validity to the historical question as to where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. They simply consisted of expressing the common belief of their days.

Based on the second tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was born in Sephoris, about 3 miles North of Bethlehem. This belief is based on the fact that under Constantine, a Church was built in Sephoris to commemorate the residence of the parents of Mary. This does not necessarily support that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born there, but rather, that she may have lived in Sephoris for some time with her parents, Joachim and Anna.

The third tradition which is the most believable is that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born in Jerusalem. While the Feast of Our Lady was not celebrated in Rome until 799 A. D. when it was prescribed by the 10th canon of the Synod of Salzburn, there is evidence to support that it existed prior to that date. Such is found in two sermons that were written by St. Andrew of Crete who died in 680 A.D. (P.G., XCVII, 806) – © 2000 Catholic Doors Ministry

Let's see now. So far we have seen that Catholic tradition has Mary having been born in two places in Jerusalem, in either a cave or a house, and in Nazareth, Sepphoris or Bethlehem. Working through Catholic tradition and teaching is like trying to find one's way blindfolded, in a swamp, at night.

Let's leave the question of where she was born and try to discover whether she was born in a cave or a house. You might recall that Aviva Bar-Am mentioned a Christian tradition that has Mary “born in a cave near the Bethsaida pool.” The White Fathers agree she was born in a cave, and they run the church that is located over that cave. Another source seems to support that 'tradition.'

St. Ann's church is one of the best preserved and finest examples of a church built during the Crusader period. It is located near St. Stephen's Gate and is built over a crypt venerated as the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and the home of her parents. The Holyland Network

If Mary indeed was born in a cave, what's this stuff about the House of Loreto? According to the Catholic Doors homilist, a number of popes seem to have believed that Mary was born in a house in Bethlehem, and they refer to that building as the House of Loreto. He was careful to point out that these papal positions were not presented as infallible truths.

Early in the 15th century, a man called John Poloner went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He recorded the details of his trip, including his visit to Jerusalem, in a journal. In the words that follow, you will notice that he identifies the street in which Joachim's (the alleged name of Mary's father) house was located. Note that he mentions that it was the house in which Mary was born.

Not far to the southward of Solomon's Temple, within the same enclosure of walls, is the Lord's Temple, wherein the first-born males were presented, wherein Jesus also was presented, and Simeon took Him into his arms. It has a leaden roof, a choir after the Saracen fashion, looking toward the south, and twenty windows on either side. It stands at the uttermost corner of the city towards the valley of Siloam. Then one goes down from the street of the judgement-hall a good way to the left, and there may be seen the house of Simon the Pharisee, where the Magdalen was forgiven her sins. Next, turning back again, in the street of the judgement-hall, is Joachim's house, where the Virgin Mary was born. At this place there is a church, now in the hands of the Saracens, and it is eighty-six paces distant from the first gate of Solomon's Temple. Moreover, forty long paces straight on from Joachim's house is the Gate of the Flocks, or of the Valley. In this walk the sheep-pool stands on the right hand, towards Solomon's Temple - John Poloner's Description of the Holy Land (Circa 1421 A. D.) Translated from Tobler's text By Aubrey Stewart

.

Now it is clear. Mary was born in a house, or cave in Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Nazareth or Sepphoris. Unless multiple births were involved, Catholic tradition doesn't seem to provide a lot of help, does it?

But what's the Holy House of Loreto got to do with all this? First thing that is necessary is that one believe that Mary was born in a house in Nazareth. Then, bear in mind that the Saracens crushed the last crusade and consolidated their control of the Holy Land by 1291. This placed Mary's alleged birthplace, at least one of them, in jeopardy. Now, let's pick up the story from a Catholic source:

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the terrible news reached Europe that the Holy Land was lost to the Christians, who during two centuries had been able to maintain the Latin kingdom there by virtue of their repeated Crusades. But at the time the Church was deploring this painful loss, a new joy was given them: the holy house of Nazareth — site of the birth of the Mother of God, of Her early education and of the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel of the wondrous news of the Incarnation of the Son of God — had been found, transported miraculously, near Tersatz in Dalmatia (Yugoslavia) on May 10th of the year 1291. Between Tersatz and nearby Fiume, the residents of the region beheld one morning an edifice, in a location where never had any been seen before. After the residents of the region talked among themselves of the remarkable little house surmounted by a bell tower, and which stood without foundations on the bare ground, describing its altar, an ancient statue of Our Lady, and other religious objects which their wondering eyes had seen within it, another surprise came to astound them once more…

Then, after three years spent in Dalmatia, the house disappeared. Paul Della Selva, a holy hermit of that period and of the region of Ancona, wrote: “During the night of December 10th, a light from heaven became visible to several inhabitants of the shores of the Adriatic Sea, and a divine harmony woke them that they might contemplate a marvel exceeding all the forces of nature. They saw and contemplated a house, surrounded by heavenly splendor, transported through the air.” The angelic burden was brought to rest in a forest, where again the local residents were able to contemplate the signal relics which it contained. The antique Greek crucifix mentioned by Our Lady was made of wood, and attached to it was a canvas on which the words Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, were painted. The cedar statue of the Virgin had been painted also; she wore a red robe and a blue cloak and held the Infant Jesus in Her arms. His right hand was raised in blessing; His left hand held a globe, symbol of His sovereign power.

The story was far from ended. The house moved again, after robbers began to intercept pilgrims coming through the forest to visit the marvel. Twice more it rose from its place, the first time coming to rest on a private terrain, which became then a source of dispute between two brothers; and finally on a hilltop where a dusty and uneven public road became its permanent site. For centuries the people of Dalmatia came across the sea on pilgrimage, often crying out to Our Lady and Her House to come back to them! Finally in 1559, after one such visit by 300 pilgrims, the Sovereign Pontiff had a hospice built at Loreto for families who preferred to remain near the house, rather than return to a land deprived of its sacred presence..

The episodes concerning the Translation of the Holy House, all duly verified, were consigned in documents borne to Rome to the Sovereign Pontiffs at various epochs. Pope Sixtus IV declared that the house was the property of the Holy See, and assigned duties to a specified personnel named to be its custodians. By Pope Leo X the indulgence applicable to the visit of several churches of Rome was accorded also to a pilgrimage to Loreto. Eventually a magnificent basilica was built around the house, which within the basilica was itself enhanced by a white marble edicule. Pope Clement IX in 1667, placed the story of the House in the Roman Martyrology for the 10th of December under the title: At Loreto, in the territory of Ancona, translation of the Holy House of Mary, Mother of God, in which the Word was made flesh. Pope Benedict XIV (d. 3 may 1758), a prodigious scholar before he became Pope, established the identity of the house with that of Nazareth, against its detractors, and later worked for the embellishment of the August sanctuary. The feast of Our Lady of Loreto is observed in many provinces of the Church, inscribed in the Proper of their dioceses by their bishops. – Translation of the Holy House of Loreto, from a calendar on site maintained by: The Order of the Magnificat of the Mother of God

The fable of the Holy House of Loreto was depicted in a fresco by 18th Century artist Giambattista Tiepolo for the ceiling of the Santa Maria di Nazareth church, also known as the Scalzi Church, in Venice. The fresco was destroyed in World War I, but we have the artist's final study to show us what it looked like. God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove are at the top of the scene, watching over events. Mary and Baby Jesus are riding on the roof as angels transport the house from Nazareth to Loreto. Joseph is standing beside the house, with his arms raised. The Saracen invaders, weapons in hand, stand watching from the lowest corner of the painting.

When the angels carried the floating house from Nazareth to its several resting places in Europe, it wasn't empty. As you read the following account, from a New Age site, bear in mind that the Floating House had no foundation which means, I do believe, that it had no floor since any floor, other than pounded native dirt, would have rested on a foundation.

Investigations into this phenomenon were lengthy and of course almost no one believed it. But having no possible explanation for its sudden appearance, together with the undoubtedly authentic relics contained within, seemed to confirm what appeared to be unbelievable. In addition, a commission was sent to Nazareth to investigate the matter further. They reported that the foundation was certainly there, but that the household had been removed. Also, the character of the stones and mortar matched precisely in material and dimension.Our Lady of Loreto, New Age Page, Miracle of the Day – Dec 10,

Betcha you would like to know what those “undoubtedly authentic relics” that the house came with were. Not to worry, the Magnificat folks inform us. Seems the local bishop had a dream in which the Catholic goddess Mary spoke to him:

Their bishop suddenly appeared in their midst, cured from a lingering illness which had kept him bedridden for several months. He had prayed to be able to go see the prodigy for himself, and the Mother of God had appeared to him, saying, in substance: “My son, you called Me; I am here to give you powerful assistance and reveal to you the secret you desire to know. The holy dwelling is the very house where I was born... It is there that when the announcement was brought by the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the divine Child by the operation of the Holy Spirit. It is there that the Word was made flesh! After My decease, the Apostles consecrated this dwelling, illustrated by such elevated mysteries, and sought the honor of celebrating the August Sacrifice there. The altar is the very one which the Apostle Saint Peter placed there. The crucifix was introduced by the Apostles, and the cedar statue is My faithful image, made by the hand of the Evangelist Saint Luke... Your sudden return to health from so long an illness will bear witness to this prodigy.” - The Order of the Magnificat of the Mother of God, Op. cit.

Wow! The flying House came with an altar from Peter, a crucifix from the Apostles, and a lifelike statue carved by Luke. Heavy duty stuff!

Are all Catholics so gullible as to believe the fantastic stories of the peripatetic house? Well, at least one cardinal wasn't, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

It must be acknowledged, however, that recent historical criticism has shown that in other directions the Lauretan tradition is beset with difficulties of the gravest kind. These have been skilfully presented in the much-discussed work of Canon Chevalier, "Notre Dame de Lorette" (Paris, 1906). It is possible that the author has in some directions pressed his evidence too far and has perhaps overstated his case, but despite the efforts of such writers as Eschbach, Faloci-Pulignani, Thomas, and Kresser, the substance of his argument remains intact and has as yet found no adequate reply. The general contention of the work may be summarized under five heads: (1) From the accounts left by pilgrims and others it appears that before the time of the first translation (1291) there was no little cottage venerated at Nazareth which could correspond in any satisfactory way with the present Santa Casa at Loreto. So far as there was question at all in Nazareth of the abode in which the Blessed Virgin had lived, what was pointed out to pilgrims was a sort of natural cavern in the rock. (2) Oriental chronicles and similar accounts of pilgrims are absolutely silent as to any change which took place in 1291. There is no word of the disappearance at Nazareth of a shrine formerly held in veneration there. It is not until the sixteenth century that we find among Orientals any hint of a consciousness of their loss and then the idea was suggested from the West. (3) There are charters and other contemporary documents which prove that a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin already existed at Loreto in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, that is to say, before the epoch of the supposed translation. (4) When we eliminate certain documents commonly appealed to as early testimonies to the tradition, but demonstrably spurious, we find that no writer can be shown to have heard of the miraculous translation of the Holy House before 1472, i.e., 180 years after the event is supposed to have taken place. The shrine and church of Loreto are indeed often mentioned; the church is said by Paul II in 1464 to have been miraculously founded, and it is further implied that the statue or image of the Blessed Virgin was brought there by angels, but all this differs widely from details of the later accounts. (5) If the papal confirmations of the Loreto tradition are more closely scrutinized it will be perceived that not only are they relatively late (the first Bull mentioning the translation is that of Julius II in 1507), but that they are at first very guarded in expression, for Julius introduces the clause "ut pie creditur et fama est", while they are obviously dependent upon the extravagant leaflet compiled about 1472 by Teramano. – Herbert Thurston, Op. cit

The Catholic Encyclopedia provides other arguments, for and against, the Fable of the Flying House. Also mentioned is another Flying House at Walsingham, in the United Kingdom. There is a bibliography of important source documents at the Santa Casa di Loreto page

Can't imagine why anyone wouldn't believe the stories of that house flitting all over the place. Seems reasonable to me…Not!

Regardless of the utter foolishness of this fable, the Famous Floating House is considered an important shrine by gullible Catholics. The flying rock pile is, in fact, the third most revered pilgrimage town in Italy after Rome and Assisi.

P.T. Barnum was right: There's a sucker born every minute.

As Loraine Boettner wrote,

Fraud is practiced in the Roman Church not only in exhibiting relics of the saints, but also in attributing supernatural powers to them. Each time a new saint is canonized the church comes into possession of a new collection of relics which are alleged to have performed miracles…The Roman devotion to sacred relics cannot be looked upon as one whit better than the same misguided devotion paid to relics in pagan temples…The great lesson taught by the history of image worship and the reverencing of relics is the importance of adhering strictly to the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. - Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, © 1962 The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, p. 292

And what did the Apostle John have to say on the subject?

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. - 1 John 5:21

Home | More Odds & Ends | Catholic Stuf | Proclaiming the Gospel Forum