How did this happen? When? Why? Keep reading.
St. Francis of Assisi went to the Holy Land, in 1220, to convert the Saracens or die trying. During his time there, he went to Nazareth and spent time at the Holy House, where the Annunciation took place, where the Holy Family lived from the time they returned from Egypt until Jesus began His public Ministry. Francis spent much time, praying there. We believe the Holy Family spoke to him in the little House; because when he came back to Italy, he went out on the road, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom. One of the first places he went to was a little town of no accord, north of Assisi, off the Adriatic Sea, about thirty miles inland from Ancona. The town was called Loreto. Francis told his brothers to begin preaching there. They looked around and protested, saying the town was too small and the area too remote. Francis prophesied “Someday this place will be known as the holiest place on earth.” Seventy four years later, the Holy House of Nazareth arrived in Loreto. Had Mother Mary spoken to St. Francis about this move when he was in Nazareth, before the Crusaders had lost the battle, and had been expelled from the Holy Land? He knew something! Was this one of the many things our Holy Family shared with this, one of their favorite sons? Our Lord Jesus loves His Mother Mary. He watches out for Her, and protects everything on earth that had anything to do with Her time here. And so it was, in the year 1291, when the Saracens (Moslems) decided to vent their venom and hate against Christ, and all things Christian. The Crusades were over. The Christians had been defeated and run out of the Holy Land. By destroying every holy place in Palestine, the Moslems thought they could eliminate every sign or vestige of Jesus’ existence in history. St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother, had made churches of all the holy places in Jesus’ life. It was as if the Saracens believed, if they took away these outward signs of Jesus, they could wipe away that Love that beats in each and every person’s heart, that longing to be more, to love and be loved more. We wonder, were the Saracens the ones who really wanted to destroy man’s hope, or could it be it was the fallen angels who know all too well the needs and desires of the human heart? Satan was having a field day. He could see the last remnants of Christianity destroyed in this Holy Land. The Saracens descended on Bethlehem. They went to the church built over the spot where Christ was born. They would level it! But when they approached the building, they believed to be where He was born, they saw a mosaic outside depicting three Arab kings (the three wise men). This could not be the place of Jesus’ birth, they thought. This is a mosque, dedicated to Arab kings of the past. So they left this place, and continued looking for the birthplace of Jesus. Our Lord had used the Angels to form a shield around the church, which blocked the minds and senses of the Saracens. He would not allow this place, where His Mother had given birth to Him, to be desecrated. At about the same time, hordes of Saracens rode, for all they were worth, their horses covered with foam of white lather as they strained to go beyond their limit, towards Nazareth. They would destroy the house of Mary. Never again would Christians celebrate the Annunciation, there. Never again would they be reminded of the Jewish Virgin’s yes that helped to redeem the world. It was well known that Jesus’ Apostles and disciples began celebrating Mass in the Holy House of Nazareth soon after Jesus’ death. It was a Shrine from the earliest days of Christianity. This was an important place for the Saracens to destroy. This is where it had all begun. We believe the Lord uses His Angels to do the extraordinary. He has great power, and He has given the Angels some of His power that they might glorify His Name, and help us in our walk toward Him. While we agree that God formed nature, and adheres to the rules He has set up for nature, we also believe God can do anything He wants, whenever He wants. We contend it’s wrong for humans to put God into a box, placing earthly limitations on what He can and cannot do. If God, in His majesty, wants to set aside the laws of Nature, and give Angels bodies with wings, and superhuman strength to pick up large objects, like houses, and transport them at the speed of light anywhere He chooses, we say Yes, Lord, praise You Lord, thank You Lord. Jesus tells us, “I assure you, if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.” (Mt17:20) Do I believe God can move mountains, and with faith I can? Yes, because He told me so. Do I believe God, through His Angels, lifted up the Holy House and moved it out of Nazareth to protect it from the hatred of His enemies? Yes, because I have seen it. Do I believe God can move men’s hearts? Now, I shout yes from the mountain tops because through prayer, I have experienced it. We believe there has always been a legion of Angels protecting the house of the Annunciation. Here, Gabriel appeared to Mary, and the Holy Family lived until Jesus began His public ministry. We believe Gabriel never left this place. But now, when danger seemed so imminent, we can visualize an army of Angels racing down from Heaven, their wings glistening in the sun, Michael joining Gabriel, his red cape whirling around him. The sky was filled with Angels, from one end of the horizon to the other. The earth shook with the vibrations of their wings. They swooped down and formed a barricade around the house. The Angels were here, and they meant business! Our Lord had good reason to call forth His Angels. The Basilica, built over the Holy House, had been destroyed twice before by the Arabs, once as long ago as 1090 A.D. For some unknown reason, they had never disturbed the crypt (lower church), where the Holy House and the grotto were located. The Crusaders rebuilt the Basilica shortly after they arrived in Nazareth. Acts of sacrilege by the Moslems, were a major reason the Crusades began in the first place; for it was right after the atrocity to the Basilica of the Annunciation that the Holy War began. The second time, the Basilica was destroyed, was in 1263. Again, the crypt was not disturbed, praise God. But then, the Crusaders were not able to rebuild the Basilica, and the Holy House was left unprotected. When it was evident the Crusaders had lost the Holy Land in 1291, our Lord Jesus decided that since He could not depend on man to protect this holy place, He would send the Angels. They would surely defend this Shrine to His Blessed Mother and their Queen. The Lord gave the Angels a mandate! “Move the Holy House; take it to a safer place, far from the hatred of My enemies in this land of My birth. Lift it; lift it high into the air, where they can’t get at it. Don’t let them see it.” We can be sure Michael and Gabriel were in charge, supervising the movement of this most holy place, where the Holy Spirit had formed the Savior of the world in the womb of Mary. In unison, the Angels raised the house from its foundation, and carried it high into the sky, resting it upon clouds which hid it from the earth. When the Saracens arrived, with hatred in their hearts, craving to pillage and burn, they were astonished. There was nothing there! Only the grotto remained. They left it alone; it had no meaning to them. The Angels carried the Holy House, high above the mountains and deserts of the Holy Land, across the expansive Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to Illyria.