An ancient tradition claims that the walls of the Shrine came from Nazareth, Galilee – the Holy House is the same House where Mary, Our Lady was born, grew, and received the angelic announcement. Loreto is a typical example of a Shrine that gave rise to a town; over the centuries, the vicissitudes of the city overlapped those of the Shrine.
Started in 1469 in late Gothic style, probably based on a design of Marino di Marco Cedrino, the Basilica was completed in 1587 with its facade in late renaissance style. In 1468 the Bishop of Recanati Niccolò delle Aste decided on the construction of the current temple, started the following year.
After the bishop’s death in 1469, the construction works taken on by Pope Paul II who had been miraculously cured in 1464 in the Holy House, while he was a cardinal.
The facade was designed by Giovanni Boccalini, who started the work of construction, from the lower cornice; it continued under the direction of G.B. Ghioldi and was brought to conclusion in 1587 by Lattanzio Ventura under the auspices of Pope Sixtus V, whose name was engraved on the upper cornice.
The design is by Luigi Vanvitelli, the famous architect of the celebrated Royal Palace of Caserta. Work started in 1750 and concluded in 1755 under the supervision of Pietro Bernasconi.
It houses nine bells, one of which is worthy of mention: called “Loreta” and made by Bernardo da Rimini in 1515, it is 184 cm. in diameter and weighs no less than 7300 kilos.
The square, bordered at the east side by the facade of the Basilica with its Bell-tower, at the north and west by the Apostolic Palace and at the south by the Illiric Palace, is also embellished by a central fountain. In the middle of Piazza della Madonna stands an artistic fountain, designed by the celebrated Carlo Maderno and his uncle Giovanni Fontana and built between 1604 and 1614. The Fountain is adorned with some bronze sculptures, carved by Tarquinio and Pietro Paolo Jacometti in 1622. Maderno and Fontana brought water to the fountain through a gallery nearly 5 km. in length from the Recanati area, to meet the needs of the pilgrims.
The Monument to Sixtus V
On the left side of the churchyard in front of the church there is the statue of Sixtus V, done by Antonio Calcagni with the collaboration of Tiburzio Vergelli in 1587. It was paid by the Marca Province and by eight prelates from Piceno who had been consecrated cardinals by Sixtus V.