2010

The Transport of the Holy House of Loreto

In the first place, we desire to remind our readers that a miracle is a fact, which, like other facts, must be proved by the testimony of competent witnesses… The testimony of one or more such witnesses, recorded either by themselves or by trustworthy authors, becomes an evidence to subsequent ages of the truth of the event; but in no case are we bound to believe in the reality of any historical fact or narrative, much less in the truth of any miraculous event, unless it comes to us attested by evidence which, on the face of it, bears plain marks of credibility. - The Catholic Layman 1

Following a self-initiated research project, The Transport of the Holy House of Loreto, curated by Sabina Mac Mahon, brought together for the first time a collection of disparate contemporary documentary sources relating to the apparent apparition of the Sancta Casa di Loreto, or Holy House of Loreto, in skies over Ireland on Tuesday, 10 May 1921.

Usually housed in the basilica in the town of Loreto near Ancona in Italy, the yellow- and red-brick dwelling said to be the birthplace of Our Lady was seen hovering in an odour of sanctity and supported by a collection of small clouds in various locations over Leinster and Ulster on the afternoon of 10 May before it mysteriously disappeared. Its absence from the basilica in Loreto was never remarked upon (though as the marble mausoleum in which it is encased is traditionally closed to visitors on Tuesdays this is not surprising) and the miraculous flight of the 31 x 13 ft house over Ireland has been largely forgotten.

However, the incredible details of the event survive in a collection of eyewitness accounts documented in a series of photographs, audio recordings, newspaper articles and paintings dating from the early 1920s. There is also the matter of a brick retrieved from a back garden in Clontarf, the finish of which has been identified as corresponding closely to that employed by the Nabateans working in Palestine in Roman times. Could this be the final proof that what was seen on 10 May 1921 was indeed the Holy House of Loreto taking flight once again?

1  unknown author (1855) ‘The Holy House of Loreto’ in The Catholic Layman, Vol IV, No. 41, May.