The Shrine of the Holy House or basilica of the Santa Casa (Italian Basilica della Santa Casa), is a Catholic place of pilgrimage in Loreto
, containing, according to tradition, the house in which the Virgin Mary lived.
Basilica of the Holy House
The basilica is a Late Gothic structure continued by Giuliano da Maiano, Giuliano da Sangallo and Bramante. The façade of the church was erected under Sixtus V, who fortified Loreto and gave it the privileges of a town (1586); his colossal statue stands in the middle of front steps. Over the principal doorway is a life-size bronze statue of the Virgin and Child by Girolamo Lombardo; the three superb bronze doors executed at the latter end of the 16th century and under Paul V (1605–1621) are also by Lombardo, his sons and his pupils, among them Tiburzio Vergelli, who also made the fine bronze font in the interior. The doors and hanging lamps of the Santa Casa are by the same artists.
The richly decorated campanile (1750 to 1754), by Vanvitelli, is of great height; the principal bell, presented by Leo X in 1516, weighs 11 tons. The interior of the church has mosaics by Domenichino and Guido Reni and other works of art, including statues by Raffaello da Montelupo. In the sacristies on each side of the right transept are frescoes, on the right by Melozzo da Forlì, on the left by Luca Signorelli. In both are fine intarsias. The basilica as a whole is thus a collaborative work by generations of architects and artists.
The main attraction of Loreto is, however, the Holy House itself (in Italian, the Santa Casa di Loreto), a Catholic place of pilgrimage since at least the 14th century and a popular tourist destination for non-Catholics as well.