The Holy House
An ancient tradition tells that the walls of the Shrine existed in Nazareth, Galilea: the Holy House is the same House where Our Lady Mary was born, grew up and received the angelic announcement.
This tradition, based on devotion and popular belief, ascribed the transportation of the House of Nazareth to an angelic mission; current historical studies have developed the hypothesis of a transportation carried out by Man, through sea and land, that came true with special assistance from above. That’s the way “to read between the lines” and give the most probable explanation to the Holy House event.
The original nucleus of the Holy House consists of three walls only: in Nazareth, the original fourth wall was simply the side opened towards the entrance of the grotto. On this edge now stands the interior altar of the Holy House.
The Holy Chamber can be clearly defined in two different parts. The lower section (from the ground up to almost 3 meters in heigh) is the original wall, made with sandstone blocks, built in regular rows, as we could find in Nazareth; the upper section is added afterwards with Marche local brick, the only building material used in the area with that methods of construction.
The technique used for the external finish of some stones is similar to that employed by the Nabateans and was very popular in Palestine during the Romans empire.
About sixty graffiti have been found, and mostly are considered by experts to be similar to those of the Judeo-Christians in the Holy Land, including Nazareth, belonging to ancient times.
The Marble Screen was commissioned by Julius II, who sent Donato Bramante to Loreto in 1507 to do "great things" there and to "draw many works".
The opera was realized under the direction of Andrea Sansovino (1513-27), Ranieri Nerucci and Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane. The statues of the Sybils and of the Prophets were inserted in their niches in a later period.
The Marble Screen consists of a podium with geometrical ornamentations, with a series of aligned columns articulated in two sections, crowned by corinthian capitals supporting a projecting cornice. The balaustrade, by Antonio da Sangallo, cloaks the ungainly barrel vault of the Holy House and also provides an elegant frame encasing the marvellous edifice.