The History of the Pilgrimage Site
The Prague Loreto is a remarkable Baroque historic monument, a place of pilgrimage with captivating history. The expansive decorative frontal façade with a clock tower, from which the Loreto carillon tunes may be heard every hour, shall certainly not go unnoticed by any local or foreign visitor passing here on his or her way to the Prague Castle. It would, however, be a great pity to enjoy only this picturesque view opening before us from the terrace of the Czernin Palace. Those who descend as far as the Loreto Square and pass through the Loreto gate will be pleasantly surprised by the place of pilgrimage disposition. We are convinced they will appreciate everything of interest that is to be seen here.
Only when we walk through the frontal building, we shall find ourselves next to the “Loreto” itself – that is the Loreto Chapel proper, the so called Santa Casa or Holy House. It is a copy of the Holy House of Nazareth worshipped in the Italian Loreto as a place in which the Miracle of Incarnation had occurred (here, archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the son of God, marking his Incarnation). Lavishly decorated with reliefs on the outside after the Italian prototypes, is a spiritual centre of the entire place of pilgrimage. Standing freely in the courtyard area, it is surrounded by a storeyed cloister with corner chapels.
On the axis of the cloister, beyond the Loreto Chapel may be viewed the pilgrimage Church of the Nativity of Our Lord. It is one of the most impressive surviving Rococo interiors in Prague. Here, Baroque organ resound every Saturday afternoon during the regular concerts organised for visitors. The music indeed accompanies those who come to Loreto throughout their whole visit – every hour, the entire building comes alive with the tunes of a Czech Marian hymn “ Tisíckrát pozdravujeme tebe” /Hail Mary Thousand Times/ produced by the carillon mechanism, and during feasts, the local organists play, on the carillon keyboard, the spiritual music compositions (the programe is regularly published).
At the end of the tour, the visitors come to the treasury, where the considerable part of the famous Loreto treasure is exhibited. Beside the St. Vitus Cathedral treasure, it is the most valuable ecclesiastical treasure in the Czech Republic. It is dominated by the Diamond monstrance, also known as the Prague Sun created at the end of the seventeenth century in Vienna with the use of unbelievable 6 222 diamonds. Since the foundation of Loreta, the Capuchin Brothers (whose Convent with the Church of the Holy Angel Virgin is situated in the neighbourhood) have taken care of Loreto Sanctuary and of the pilgrims.