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Sunday in the Octave of Christmas

 The Holy House of Loreto is a precious and true icon
of an event and a mystery.

The Holy House of Loreto is not only a “relic”, but also a precious and true “icon”. It is an “icon” not of abstract truths, but of an event and a mystery: the Incarnation of the Word.

The Incarnation, which is remembered within these sacred walls, at once regains its genuine biblical meaning. It is not just a doctrine concerning the union between the divine and the human, but rather an event that happened at a precise point in time and space, as the words of the Apostle marvellously bring to light: When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of woman. Mary is that Woman. She is, so to speak, the “space” both physical and spiritual in which the Incarnation took place. But even the House in which she lived is a tangible reminder of the reality of this mystery.

The memory of the hidden life of Nazareth brings to mind specific questions touching the life of each man and each woman. It reawakens the sense of holiness of the family, immediately presenting a whole universe of values, today so threatened, such as faithfulness, respect for life, the education of children, and prayer. Christian families can rediscover all this within the walls of the Holy House, the first and most exemplary “Domestic Church” in history.

The Holy House recalls at the same time the greatness of the vocation to the consecrated life and virginity for the Kingdom, which had its glorious beginnings in the person of Mary, Virgin and Mother.

Then, to the young, who in countless numbers come as pilgrims to the Mother’s House, I would like to repeat the words I addressed to them on another occasion: “Walk towards Mary, walk with Mary – Let her fiat echo in your heart”. May the young renew, in light of the lessons of the House of Nazareth, their commitment within the Catholic laity to restoring Christ in hearts, families, culture and society.

There is also here the opportunity for a more in-depth study of the proper efforts in our times to recognise the place of women in the Church and in society. Due to the fact that God “sent his Son born of woman”, every woman was elevated, in Mary, to such a dignity greater than which no other can be conceived.

In addition, no theoretical consideration can ever exalt the dignity of human work more than the simple fact that the Son of God worked in Nazareth and wanted to be called “son of the carpenter”.

Finally, how can we fail to mention the “choice for the poor” that the Church made in the Council and reaffirmed ever more clearly afterwards? The austere and humble walls of the Holy House visually remind us that God himself had inaugurated this choice in Mary, who, as a conciliar text says, “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him”.

Still on this theme of poverty and suffering, the sick have had a privileged place in the history of the Shrine. They were among the first to hasten as pilgrims to the Auspicious House and to make it known to others. Where could they, moreover, be better welcomed, than in the House of Her whom precisely we invoke in the “Litany of Loreto” as “Health of the sick” and “Comforter of the afflicted”?

 “May this Shrine of Loreto," as John XXIII said , "be always a window opening onto the whole world, re-echoing those hidden voices which make known the sanctification of souls, families and peoples”.

Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II, 
700th Anniversary of the House of Loreto,
Office of Readings, Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary