Loreto (lōrĕˈtō) [key], town (1991 est. pop. 10,780), in the Marche, central Italy, on a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea. It has silk industries and is a famous place of pilgrimage. According to legend, the Holy House of the Virgin in Nazareth was brought to Loreto through the air by angels in 1294. Around the Holy House (a small brick building) there is a church—the Santuario della Santa Casa—begun in 1468 by Pope Paul II; Bramante contributed to its construction. It has fine bronze doors (16th–17th cent.) and frescoes by Melozzo da Forli and Luca Signorelli. Our Lady of Loreto is a patron of aviators. The Loretto (or Loreto) order of nuns, named for the town, was founded in Ireland in 1822.
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