With a 5:30 AM wake-up call, the pilgrims started the day early with packed suitcases, and said arrivederci to Assisi. We traveled 2 hours by bus to Loreto to see the Basilica of Loreto.
Directly behind the main altar is the Shrine of The Holy House. The shrine holds 3 walls of the Holy Family's house where the Annunciation and Incarnation took place. The shrine has been in Loreto since 1294, brought from Nazareth to preserve it from invaders and thieves. The shrine is now a tiny chapel with an altar and a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Loreto. The shrine is encased in a marble masterpiece of Italian Renaissance art. It was built in the first 30 years of the 16th century, according to a design by Donato Bramante.
The monumental Basilica of Loreto contains a considerable number of bronze sculptures. There is an amazing cycle of frescoes on the ceiling of the Treasure Hall as well as in the chapels of the apses. After admiring the interior, we headed outside to Madonna's Square to view the exterior architecture.
After a quick lunch on our own, we boarded our busses and made our way to the town of Lanciano. In the 8th century, the first and greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church took place here. It was a divine response to a Brazilian monk who doubted Jesus' real presence in the Eucharist. During Mass, after the consecration, the host was changed into live flesh and the wine was changed into live blood. The Host-Flesh has been preserved in a decorative silver ostensorium since 1713, and the Blood is held in a crystal cup below it.
In 1970 and again in 1981, scientific investigations were conducted with absolute precision, yielding the following conclusions: the Flesh is real human flesh, the Blood is real human blood; the Flesh is composed of heart muscle tissue; both have AB blood type.
After taking photos of the Eucharistic Miracle, we were seated in the body of the church. Bishop Malesic celebrated Mass with Father Lechnar and all the pilgrims. It was a powerful experience to watch the bishop consecrate the bread and wine, directly in front of the Eucharistic Miracle.
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