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Loreta (Loreto Church)
Loreta (Loreto Church) Review
The seductive lines of this church were a conscious move on the part of Counter-Reformation Jesuits in the 17th century, who wanted to build up the cult of Mary and attract Protestant Bohemians back to the fold. According to legend, angels had carried Mary's house from Nazareth and dropped it in a patch of laurel trees in Ancona, Italy. Known as Loreto (from the Latin for laurel), it immediately became a destination of pilgrimage. The Prague Loreto was one of many symbolic reenactments of this scene across Europe, and it worked: Pilgrims came in droves. The graceful façade, with its voluptuous tower, was built in 1720 by the ubiquitous Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, the architect of the two St. Nicholas churches in Prague. A small exhibition upstairs displays the religious treasures presented to Mary in thanks for various services, including a monstrance (a vessel for the consecrated Eucharist) spectacularly studded with 6,500 diamonds.
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