Since the fifteenth century, and possibly even earlier, the “Holy House” of Loreto has been numbered among the most famous shrines of Italy. Loreto is a small town a few miles south of Ancona and near the sea. Its most conspicuous building is the basilica. This dome-crowned edifice, which with its various annexes took more than a century to build and adorn under the direction of many famous artists, serves merely as the setting of a tiny cottage standing within the basilica itself. Though the rough walls of the little building have been raised in height and are cased externally in richly sculptured marble, the interior measures only thirty-one feet by thirteen. An altar stands at one end beneath a statue, blackened with age, of the Virgin Mother and her Divine Infant. As the inscription, Hic Verbum caro factum est, reminds us, this building is honoured by Christians as the veritable cottage at Nazareth in which the Holy Family lived, and the Word became incarnate.