The facade of the church of San Salvatore in Lauro bears a curious bas-relief of a house being held aloft by three angels. Perched on the roof of the house are the Madonna and Child.
The relief is by Rinaldo Rinaldi (1793-1873) and depicts the miracle of the holy house of Loreto. According to legend, the very house in which the Virgin Mary was born, and in which she conceived Jesus, was transported by angels all the way from Nazareth to Loreto, a small town in the Marche region of Italy.
Tradition holds that the house arrived in Loreto on December 10th, 1294, after a miraculous rescue from the Holy Land as the Crusaders were driven out of Palestine.
For centuries it has been enshrined in the Basilica di Santa Casa, making the church a major point of Marian pilgrimage. In 1920 Pope Benedict XV (r. 1914-22) declared the Madonna of Loreto to be the patron saint of air travellers.
San Salvatore in Lauro, which was begun in 1594 by Ottaviano Nonni (1536-1606), better known as Il Mascherino, was the national church of the Marchigiani, the inhabitants of the Marche region.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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