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The Catholic Historical Review 87.2 (2001) 307-308

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Book Review

Loreto: Crocevia religioso tra l'Italia, Europa e Oriente

Loreto: Crocevia religioso tra l'Italia, Europa e Oriente. Edited by Ferdinando Citterio and Luciano Vaccaro. [Quaderni della "Gazzada," 16.] (Brescia: Morcelliana. 1997. Pp. xxxii, 596. Lire 90,000 paperback.)

This hefty volume derives from a conference held in 1995 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the miraculous transfer of the home of the Virgin from Nazareth to Loreto, where the Holy House promptly became a major pilgrimage center. Given the volume's size and scope, an analytical index would have been most welcome; its absence is only partially offset by Nicola Raponi's introduction, which does offer a helpful entrée to the collection. The twenty-seven contributions range from Cardinal Godfried Danneels theological prolusion to Giulio Cattin's musicological conclusion, though most address the devotional, ecclesiological, and artistic significance of this Marian shrine. First, some distinguished speakers trace the historical context: Luigi Gambero, on Marian piety in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; Kaspar Elm, on devotion to the Virgin and female religious life; Giorgio Fedalto, on the memory of the East in the medieval West; and Sylvie Barnay, on Marian apparitions. Giorgio Cracco's wide-ranging discussion of Loreto's part in the late-medieval efflorescence of sanctuaries, Marian and otherwise, is particularly fecund with ideas and rich in bibliographical pointers.

A second set of essays tackles the ecclesiological dimensions of the shrine of Loreto, which figured importantly in the universal as in the local church. Mario Sensi sorts out the protracted jurisdictional disputes that pitted bishops of Recanati against the rectors of the Holy House. Gian Ludovico Masetti Zannini chronicles the interest of numerous popes, from Urban VI to John Paul II, in the pilgrimage to Loreto, which they encouraged with numerous indulgences and conspicuous personal devotion. László Szilas surveys references to Loreto in the spiritual literature of one of the great orders of the Catholic Reform, the Jesuits, while Pietro Vittorino Regni recounts the long involvement of another, the Capuchins, in promoting and propagating the cult. Unfortunately, the illness that led to Gustavo Parisciani's death prevented him from contributing more than a brief note on the Franciscan Conventuals and Loreto.

Other essays track the geographical spread of Loretan devotion through the early modern period: in Croatia, linking the two shores of the Adriatic (Josip Kolanovid); in northeastern Italy (Giovanni Spinelli); in the Alpine valleys (Santino Langé, on iconography, and Luca Rinaldi, on sanctuaries and devotion); in Lazio (Giuseppe Crocetti); and in the Germanic lands, from the Low Countries to Bohemia and Moravia (Antje Stannek). The regional studies of Langé and Rinaldi are just two among the several papers treating artistic and architectural aspects of the cult of the Holy House. Fabio Bisogni explores the prototypes and developments of Loretan iconography, while Cinzia Ammannato traces the image of Loreto during the Reformation. Nereo Alfieri, Edmondo Forlani, and Mario Luni present the results of excavations conducted at the sanctuary, whose findings enrich the limited written documentation on the origins of the [End Page 307] shrine. Arnaldo Bruschi follows the architectonic transformation of the sanctuary during the Renaissance, and Floriano Grimaldi sheds new light on the workforce that brought those building projects to a triumphant conclusion by the middle of the sixteenth century. But Loreto existed as something more than a monument of stone and brick: its chapel musicians made Loreto a musical laboratory (in Giulio Cattin's evocative phrase); and fifteenth-century poets celebrated the Madonna of Loreto in vernacular and Latin compositions, studied here by Giuseppe Santarelli.

Rounding out the volume, Angelo Turchini examines devotion to Loreto during the Counter-Reformation, as expressed in penitential pilgrimages, vows, and ex-voto offerings; Annibale Zambarbiere looks at the sociability of collective pilgrimages to the sanctuary in the nineteenth century; and Lucetta Scaraffia reflects on the enduring significance of the Holy House, whose miraculous history helps keep audible the rustle of angels' wings in an ever more secularized world.

Daniel Bornstein
Texas A&M University...


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