Thought for the Day – 10 December – The First Universal Memorial of Our Lady of Loreto
In the liturgy of the Western Church the word litany is derived from litania, meaning prayer of invocation or intercession. It also meant, up to the twelfth century, a procession with intercessory character, also known under the designation of rogation. Speaking of litanies in the classical sense, the Church has approved for official use the following ones: The Litanies of All Saints, probably the oldest, the Litanies of the Names of Jesus (1886), the Litanies of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1899), those in honour of Saint Joseph (1909) and the Precious Blood (1960) as well as the Litanies of Loreto.
THE LITANY OF LORETO
The Litany of Loreto, so called because of its use in the sanctuary of Loreto (Italy) since at least as far back as 1531, was officially approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V. Its origin is believed to be a medieval rhymed litany influenced by Eastern Marian devotion, in particular by the famous Hymnos Akathistos. Contrasting with the older Litany of All Saints, the components of the Loreto Litany are purely ad- or invocational prayers. It is the only approved Marian litany. As can be observed, for example, in the so called Officia Mariana, many more Marian litanies were and are in use but designated for private devotion.
The 1587 version of the Litany of Loreto was subsequently enriched with new advocations.
1675 Queen of the most Holy Rosary (for the confraternities of the Holy Rosary)
1883 Queen Conceived without Original Sin (Leo XIII for the whole Church)
1903 Mother of Good Counsel (Leo XIII)
1917 Queen of Peace (Benedict XV)
1950 Queen Assumed into Heaven (Pius XII)
1980 Mother of the Church (John Paul II)
1995 Queen of Families (John Paul II)
On 24 March 1920, Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922) approved the Patronage of Aviation, air passengers, pilots, etc to Our Lady of Loreto.
The reason for this is the reference to the Holy House. According to ancient tradition, the Holy House–that of Mary and Jesus, where the Word of God became flesh–arrived by sky or sea, on the hill of Loreto at the end of the thirteenth century. It reached Loreto, Italy after a brief stay at Tersato, Dalmatia, 1291 and landed 1294 at a location called Recanati (today’s Loreto) in a wooded area belonging to a nobleman named Loreta. The dimensions of the House of Loreto are identical to those of the House of the Holy Family that is missing from its enshrinement place at the Nazareth Basilica. The Church of Mary of Loreto was first mentioned in 1315. Construction of a large church is cited in 1468. In 1586, Loreto was granted city status and the church was raised to a Cathedral, only to become a Basilica in 1728. It has been an episcopal cathedral since 1965.
Loreto is one of the most famous Marian shrines in Italy. It is a worldwide centre of Marian prayer (Litany of Loreto), celebrating the “ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word” (John Paul II) and inviting all Christian families to take as their model the Family of Nazareth.
Pope Benedict XV approved a special blessing for the Patronage of aviation, in 1920:
“O merciful God,
You have consecrated
the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary
with the mystery of the Word Incarnate
and placed it in the midst of Your children.
Pour forth Your blessing on this vehicle
so that those who take an aerial trip in it,
may happily reach their destination
and return safely home
under Mary’s protection.”