In 1291, when the crusaders left the Holy Land for good and the Muslim armies, as they advanced, sacked all the sacred Christian edifices, the walls of the house of the Blessed Virgin in Nazareth were transported first to Dalmatia (today's Albania and Croatia), then, on the night of December 9-10, 1294, to the ancient territory of Recanati (near Ancona, Italy), first close to the harbor and then to the hill where the house of Mary still stands today (Loreto).
According to a popular tradition never challenged by the long series of popes who have shown their attachment to the Holy House of Loreto, it was through the ministry of angels that God preserved the Holy House and transported it - although some recent studies suggest that it might have happened through human means.
The Basilica of Nazareth and the Basilica of Loreto are like Siamese twins, for each contains a part of the House of Mary, two parts which, according to tradition, were separated from each other. This is confirmed by the results of archaeological excavations carried out in Nazareth, in the Church of the Annunciation, between 1955 and 1960, and in Loreto in the basement of the Holy House between 1962 and 1965.
In Nazareth, the excavations showed that the house of the Virgin, like the other houses in the neighborhood, consisted of a cave cut into the rock, which served as an annex, and a three-walled room standing in the extension of the cave. If the two parts were reunited, they would perfectly fit together. The excavations also confirmed that the Holy House of Loreto was built in the same place as the grotto, and that Mary’s house was venerated as early as the first century.
The Holy House of Loreto was known early on for having no foundation. It has many other anomalies: for example, part of its walls are made of stone, which is not a building material in these parts because of the absence of quarries; its only door faces north, thus exposed to all the elements; its only window faces west, thus receiving only limited light, etc. But, what is absurd in the region of Loreto makes absolute sense in the region of Nazareth!
Church historians, generally, agree that this litany was composed during the Middle Ages. Some writers declare that they know nothing of its origin and history; others, on the contrary, trace it back to the translation of the Holy House (1294); others, to Pope Sergius I (687); others, again, to St. Gregory the Great or to the fifth century; while others go as far back as the earliest ages of the Church, and even Apostolic times. Historical criticism, however, proves it to be of more recent origin, and shows that it was composed during the early years of the sixteenth century or the closing years of the fifteenth. The litany holds a place of honor due to its popular shrine at the Holy House at Loreto. Legend has it that the walls of the "Holy House" of Nazareth are in Galilee: The Virgin Mary was born in the "Holy House". She grew up there, and it was there that the Angel of the Lord appeared to her.
A legend based on the pity and faith of the people states that the house was taken by the angels. The new historical research is based on the hypothesis that the house was transported by human hand with "heavenly" help over water and earth. The original "Santa Casa" consists of only three walls. In Nazareth, the fourth wall was the rock on which the house was built. In this place is now an altar. While new research may have taken away some supernatural elements, science still points to some aspects that suggest the miraculous.