One of the most important Black Madonna shrines in Europe is The Basilica della Santa Casa (Basilica of the Holy House) in Loreto, Italy. Catholics believe that it enshrines the authentic house, where Mary lived. The house is believed to have been brought to Loreto by angels.
I think this symbolism of Home is really touching here. Home is what we all seek; the womb and later the mother is our first home; it is the Ithaca we all long for; home is where the heart is, as the popular saying goes. Home does not need to be physical space but, like the soul, it stands for a spiritual centre, finding peace and rest after a period of turmoil; it is “a vital center of both fixity and freedom.” (1) In the wonderful movie Nomadland (2020) the main character played by Frances Macdormand has her whole “home” in a van (she refers to herself as houseless) and yet we sense the spiritual riches in her that are boundless. People are attracted to her radiant presence as if she embodied the idea of home.
Numerous copies of the so called “Loretokapelle” (Loreto chapel) sprung up in the seventeenth century in the German speaking part of Europe. Here in Switzerland there are a number of notable Loreto chapels. I wrote about the most famous one here:
But the less prominent ones, the ones hidden in dark forests are a real joy to discover and I have been on a quest to find them all. Last weekend I visited one closest to my home. I had not heard about that one before and therefore it was a real thrill. I include a few pictures below.
(1) (1) The Book of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Images, ARAS, edited by Ami Ronnberg, p. 556
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