It was in Dalmatia that shepherds first discovered the sudden appearance of a little house in one of their fields. They sought out the local priest, a cripple, who visited the house. While there, he received a vision about the house and was cured of his physical handicap. He was told that St. Peter put the altar in the house and the figure of Mary (now known as Our Lady of Loreto) was carved by St. Luke. A delegation sent to the Holy Land discovered that the house of Mary had, indeed, disappeared, and the foundation left behind measured exactly the length and width of the house in Dalmatia which had amazingly appeared out of nowhere.
The house was transported by angels two other times to protect it from pillagers and ne’er do-wells. The house stands to this day, intact, and with no foundation.
Many miracles are associated with Our Lady of Loreto. A famous one involves Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, who was beatified along with Pope John XXIII in the year 2,000. Each year he made a pilgrimage with his mother to Loreto. As a wee child he fell into a stream and became subject to chronic fatigue, fever, and epileptic seizures causing him to leave seminary. Pope Pius VII, a close friend, counseled him with these words: "God is mysterious. He throws down to raise up. He throws into the gutter the ones He wants to lift to the stars. Above the wildest storms gleams the Star of the Sea. Renounce yourself and place yourself in the hands of the Madonna. Call out to her 'save me!' The Virgin of Nazareth is your future." With these words in his heart, he journeyed again to Loreto. There he prayed: "Mother, behold your child-----sick, miserable, useless. I am the shame of my family and disgust to myself. I dedicate myself to you-----save me. Immaculata, make me clean!" He was cured, returned to seminary, and was ordained. In 1846, the conclave elevated him, now Cardinal of Imola, to the papacy. He chose the name, Pius IX. In 1854, he proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, thus officially inaugurating the Marian Era. As Pope he visited Loreto seven times.
Read again the words Pope Pius VII spoke to Giovanni. How were they prophetic? Why do you think God “throws down to raise up?” Think of some canonized saints who had this experience. What do you consider to be your “gutter” experience? How can God use it to lift you “to the stars?” Call out to Our Lady, too, for her maternal help and assistance.