LORETO enshrines the original home of the holiest persons who walked the earth: the God-Man Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and the virginal father, St. Joseph. Therefore, it should not be surprising that this sanctuary should attract Saints. There is a marble plaque in the basilica on which are carved the names of thirty-nine saints and twenty-two other holy persons who came on pilgrimage to Loreto. In 1846, there were one hundred and sixty names. One hundred and fifty years later that number must have easily doubled.
Among the more famous and well-known saints are SS. Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, John Berchmans, Stanislaus Kostka, Francis Borgia, Charles Borromeo, Francis of Paula, Francis de Sales, Bernardine of Siena, John of Capistrano, Lawrence of Brindisi, Philip Neri, Camillus de Lellis, Louis Guanella, Robert Bellarmine, Gabriel Possenti, Clement Hofbauer, Brigit of Sweden, Madaleine Sophie Barat, Alphonsus Liguori, Louis Grignon de Montfort, Aloysius Gonzaga, John Bosco and Therese of Lisieux. Blessed Anthony Grassi came to the shrine fifty times. The Holy Spirit obviously is the archenemy of the devil, the father of lies. The favoured friends of the Holy Spirit, the Saints, in whom He took up His abode in a very special way, loved the truth and were rarely taken in by the father of lies. So when we see a vast array of these intimate friends of God visiting the Holy House of Loreto to pay their homage and pray at the very place where the Word was made flesh, we cannot help but be further impressed at its authenticity. No other Marian shrine in the world can boast of such an array of Saints and holy souls visiting its sacred precincts.
If one were to single out a Saint who was particularly attached to Loreto, it would seem that the pilgrim saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, would have first place. After finding out that his vocation was to be a rather exceptional one—–literally a pilgrim beggar—–Benedict left his home in France in 1770 for Rome at age twenty-two. On this first journey, he stopped on his way at Loreto and Assisi. He stayed in Rome for nine months visiting all the holy places but was back in Loreto in September of the following year. In June 1772, he was back again at Loreto. He then extended his pilgrimages to all the famous shrines in Europe. At the end of 1776, he settled down in Rome, leaving only to make an occasional pilgrimage to his favorite shrine, the Holy House. He continued this each year until his death in 1783 at the age of 35.
The people of Loreto came to know him well. He was that beggar who lived on the charity of others, refusing to take any more than necessary to fill his immediate needs. When compassionate friends offered him a room closer to the shrine, he turned it down when he found it contained a bed. Surely the poverty and utter detachment of the Holy Family of Nazareth was reflected in a most outstanding way in this Saint who spent many long vigils of prayer in the Holy House.
St Benedict Joseph Labre Pray for us!