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there are any, we repeat, who can believe this absolutely possible, and not wholly incredible, let them hear how a subsequent excavator belonging to the Franciscan convent of Nazareth has disposed of his reported investigations-the only historical notice that we can find of them apart from the legend. After having proved at large, and to his own satisfaction at all events, that he had been the first to discover the true ancient foundations of the house, he adds,

'How those men who, in the time of Nicholas IV. (i. e. A. D. 1291), were sent to Nazareth for this purpose, managed to get their proofs from thence, I know not at all; since what we have now done, by the grace of God, in the way of experiment, was absolutely impossible for them to have thus done in those days; nor, in fact, either at Nazareth, or at Loretto, does it appear what they did do.

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We now come to the only really objective house in the story, still standing where it has ever stood, not 1900 years, but about 400 years old, the original Santa Casa, in whose honour the dutiful laurels about Loretto, till the ruthless axe had laid them low, in the words of the legend, were perpetually bowing their heads! Not but that it, too, is stated to have been once locomotive, and possibly might have been still, had it not been luckily built over where it now stands. The story says that it made no less than three land flights before it became stationary. First, shepherds keeping their flocks by night, as on the night of the Nativity, saw it descend, amidst a blaze of light, in a wood of laurels near Recanati, in the march of Ancona. This, however, proved too dangerous a locality, owing to the robbers that infested it, to be attractive to pilgrims; so the angels, who had brought it thither, had the trouble of once more removing it to a neighbouring hill, about a mile off; and from thence, when it had proved an apple of discord to two brothers, joint owners of the spot on which it had lighted, it removed for the fourth and last time-thenceforward to fly no more-to the far more convenient resting-place of a plot of ground by the high-road; all which flights and final settlement were effected in the short space of a single year. The question unfortunately remains, who are they that vouch for these particulars? We have appealed in vain to contemporaries, and echo still answers who? We are compelled to fall back upon the following note from Gieseler for the stern truth:


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The first writer who notices this sanctuary is Flavius Blondus, secretary of Eugenius IV. (and the following Popes, till Pius II. ob. A. D. 1463), in his Italia Illustrata in Piceno, p. 339 (Op. ed. Basil, A.D. 1559) :—

1 Thomas a Novatia ap. Quaresmii Elucid. Terr. S. lib. vii. c. iv. ad fin. ' Caillau, p. 24.

Caillau, pp. 20-33. The time occupied we learn from Raynald. Contin. ad Baron, A. D. 1295 (n. 59).

"Recanatum inter et Adriacum mare, paululum a Musione recedit celeberrimum totius Italiæ, ut in aperto immunitoque vico, sacellum gloriosæ Virginis Mariæ in Laureto appellatum. Quo loco preces supplicantium a Deo genitricis suæ intercessione exaudiri, illud maximum certissimumque est argumentum, quòd eorum, qui votis emissis exauditi fuerunt, ex auro, argento, cerâ, pannis, veste lineâ, laneâque, appensa donaria, magno luenda pretio, basilicamque omnem pænè complentia, Episcopus in Dei Virginisque gloriam intacta conservat."

From this we may infer, that the wonderful removal was either wholly unknown, or only known as a popular tradition. The first writer who mentions the account of this wonderful removal, which is now found at the sanctuary itself, is Baptista Mantuanus. (Redemptoris mundi matris Eccl. Lauret. Hist. in ejusd. opp. omn. Antwerp, 1576, 8vo. tom. iv. p. 216, seq.) The account was undoubtedly written between 1450 and 1480, and was the means of spreading the story.'1


In other words, that this wonderful event, which, if true, stands unique in the history of the world, is not noticed in a single extant authentic document of any kind for two whole centuries; that there is not a Pope who even speaks of the shrine of Loretto for one hundred and fifty years, and that then, when notice is first taken of it, it is successively mentioned by a Papal secretary and by Pontiffs themselves for some time afterwards, in high terms of praise, but without the most remote reference to that crowning event, which, if true, would have distinguished it far above all other Christian sanctuaries. And then, finally, that the first author who mentions the miraculous removal, happens to have been General of the Carmelites, an order, as he says himself, in connexion with the story which he is telling for the first time-specially decorated with the title of the Mother of God;' while his sole authority for it, is, by his own candid confession, found to have been nothing more than a musty worm-eaten tablet,' without date, affixed to the walls of the church itself, among other innumerable votive offerings, transcribed by him A.D. 1479, and dedicated to the then cardinal bishop of Recanati, nephew of Sixtus IV. of whom it is no less candidly testified that it was his aspiration to be adding continually to the majesty of the sanctuary. The Carmelites, moreover,


1 Gieseler, Eccl. Hist. vol. iii. § 144, p. 314, note. Eng. Tr. ed. Philadelphia, 1836. 8vo.

2 Even M. Caillau cannot adduce one till Urban VI. A. D. 1389. But there is not such a Bull extant. The Bull, however, which is evidently meant is the first of Boniface IX. respecting the Feast of the Visitation of the blessed Virgin Mary, where it certainly might have been expected to have been noticed (Bullar, Rom. Caroli Coquel. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 378 and seq.) but is not. The votive inscription of Pius II. which of course we are not in a position to verify, is as silent about the removal as his predecessors were about the shrine: V. Caillau, p. 57, note. The bulls mentioned by him of subsequent Popes are not to be met with in the above collection.

3 Baptist. Mantuan. loc. cit. pp. 216, 220, 221.

had just had it entrusted to their guardianship by the said Sixtus IV.1

Thus initiated, the wondrous tale passed rapidly from mouth to mouth and from ear to ear, and as it passed acquired consistency. It was soon elaborated out of documents of a more authentic cast: and the colophon was placed upon it, when Jerome Angelita (who flourished, not as M. Caillau most falsely asserts, A. D. 1378,2 but towards the middle of the sixteenth century,') published his very popular version of the story,* of which he asserted authentic proofs were to be seen in the public archives of his native town Recanati.

Proofs indeed were to be seen there-but what was the nature of the testimony upon which they rested? It is seldom that one finds writers on the marvellous telling their story with so much candour and naïveté as our friends the poet and the antiquarian. 'The translation of the Holy House,' says Jerome, was first described in a picture on the new wall of the same, painted at the 'public expense of the Recanatensians.' It found its way into writing subsequently from some annotations made on the picture by the guardian of the shrine (antistes cubiculi): a copy of which had been struck off, and was still handed about. Mantuanus, by the way, speaks of it.



All this, however, would seem to have passed off and to have been subsiding into oblivion, we are not told how long: whenUnexpectedly, in the days of Leo X.' proceeds Jerome (that is, between A.D. 1513 and 1521), some Illyrians bring over a scroll '(scheda) extracted from the ancient records of a certain town on the other side of the Adriatic, containing a full account of the first 'translation.' This intelligence was deemed so extraordinary that it was immediately notified to the Pope; and of course all Recanati was in a blaze. We would remind our readers that Leo X. is the first Pope who speaks of any Illyrian translation whatever, in express terms; and that in his Bull, dated August 1st, A.D. 1518, he mentions all four translations in their due order. His munificence founded a college for twelve canons,

1 Ibid. p. 222. Without imputing dishonesty to the Carmelite General, one need go no further than his own version of it to be quite convinced of the worthlessness of the legend. The practical moral is most naively given, pp. 225, 226.

2 P. 53. Evidently confounding Clement VII., to whom Jerome dedicated his work, with the anti-pope, Clement VII. of Avignon notoriety.

3 He was father of John Francis Angelita, the historian of Recanati, whose history was published by his friend and contemporary Caspar Garbeyza, A. D. 1601 v. ap. Thesaur. Antiquit. et Hist. Ital. a Grævio, tom. vii. pars ii. prope fin.

Ibid. p. 13. The son says his father's book sold so, when translated, that he had been obliged to publish a second edition. The work of Torsellinus succeeded it, (v. ibid.) not preceded.

5The bull of his predecessor Julius II. most curiously makes the house pass at once from Nazareth to Recanati. v. Torsellin. Hist. Lauret. I. 9. ap. Martorelli Teat. Istor. tom. i. Why did not M. Caillau notice this in affecting to quote the bull as consistent in all respects with his history? p. 3, note, comp. p. 63.

twelve missionary priests, and six choristers, in the neighbourhood of the Holy House; and a pilgrimage to Loretto was by him raised to a level-in the way of gaining indulgences-with a visit to the principal churches of his own metropolis.' Jerome finishes his preface by saying that his own account (which could scarce have been composed within twenty years of these latter events) was taken from the ancient annals of Recanati, reduced into form, and illustrated by means of the scroll thus brought over from Illyria.'

We are now in a position to point out both the origin and growth of the tale. The first authority for it was the votive tablet discovered by the Mantuan bard, upon which explanatory notes had been written by the priest in charge of the sanctuary: which notes moreover existed in a separate and authentic copy. When it was first wafted over to the opposite coast does not appear, but it was brought from thence in the days of Leo X., who did not hesitate to stamp the whole with his authority, and to found a large collegiate establishment on the spot in honour of it. Some twenty years or more afterwards, Jerome Angelita published a popular version of it, taken, he says, partly from the public records of the town near which the shrine stood, and partly from documents brought over from a town in Illyria, which boasted of a fac-simile of the said shrine.

Jerome, notwithstanding, it will have been seen, appeals to the tablet beheld by the Mantuan bard, with the annotations that had been made upon it, as the earliest authority for the legend: and we may be sure that the Carmelite General transcribed them most fully. Whence then did the historian supply so many minute details that are wanting and correct so many particulars that are awkwardly stated-in the poet? According to Baptista, that is, the tablet, the Holy House was removed from Fiume, because through ignorance or unskilfulness it was not regarded there with becoming reverence. It is thus that the vision of the bishop of S. George, the piety of Nicholas Frangipane, and the first and most distinguished embassy to Nazareth, are slurred over. All this Jerome doubtless supplied from the records of Tersatz! Was it likewise from those records of Tersatz that the dates of the three subsequent translations near Recanati were supplied so accurately? And did they correct the

1 Caillau, pp. 65, 66.

2 This, of course, together with the entire annals of Fiume are very conveniently said to have perished. Martorelli Teat. Istor. vol. iii. p. 31. fol. ed.; and a similar apology is made for the scantiness of the records of Recanati, Ibid. vol. i. p. 177. ie. Torsell. Hist. Lauret. i. 22. We, too, should like to see much the records from which Jerome copied ! By the way, where does Torsellinus get his authority Præp. Tere.' explained, c. 28, to have been the priest (to wit!) who made notes on the picture. Neither Baptista nor Jerome mention such a name in connexion with it; and according to the former, the priest before whom the depositions were taken was 'Neronianus,' not 'Teremannus.'

statement which Baptista Mantuanus has nevertheless handed down, that it was in A.D. 1386(!) only that the connexion of the House of Loretto with Nazareth was first revealed, and that messengers were despatched thereupon to the latter place, and all without a single word about Tersatz? Evidently there was something about the date that looked awkward; or something about the vision that seemed to put a slight upon Illyria. Unquestionably a different version of the whole circumstance might well have been expected from Jerome, as is indeed the case. According to him this second appearance of the blessed Virgin Mary is placed A.D. 1296: she is made to acquaint her votary with the first translation: and as a natural consequence, messengers are reported to have been sent not only to Nazareth, for the purpose of investigating the original site of the house, but to Tersatz, its resting-place.'

The splendid myth which M. Rohrbacker has inserted into his ecclesiastical history is embroidery work made up; the narrative of the Santa Casa by Jerome, the embroidery work itself: and the simple unvarnished legend in the hands of Baptista, the canvass that supports the whole, but is too coarse for inspection. By the candid avowal of the last two writers the substratum of the whole is found to have been the dingy tablet upon the new wall of the house, with notes appended to it by the priest who ministered there. And truly, why might not the devout inhabitants of Recanati have a picture expressly painted for the dear little chapel which they were restoring, and the artist indulge his fancy, and the priest endeavour to make the subject intelligible to his flock? But is it for this that we should be required to read the ancient Fathers backwards; making some say what they never said: and interpreting others short of their express statements: and casting reflections upon others indirectly, because they have passed over in silence what they ought to have noticed; and flying directly in the teeth of others, because they have made morally impossible that which we would fain believe to be a fact, even against their express testimony?

The first, and indeed only traveller to Nazareth who speaks of a house at all there, before the alleged translation, has been shown to be Phocas; and this is a subterraneous one within a cave one which could never have been got out without a miracle, and a corresponding one to which is allowed to exist there still. The church which stood over it we know to have been utterly rased to the ground by the Saracens twenty-nine years after the alleged removal of the house, A. D. 1291; and

More inconsistencies we do not think it necessary to point out. The individual testimonies that are alleged, lastly, are not only without date, but are selfcontradictory.

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