A place of holiness for 45 years

Today, on the feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Holy House, USA at the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima celebrates the 45th anniversary of its dedication. The Holy House is a place of worship for the people of God, built by The Blue Army under John Haffert’s direction. Bishop George W. Ahr of the diocese of Trenton dedicated it on Aug. 22, 1973.

The Holy House USA is an exact replica of the Holy House of Loreto. It is one of several replicas in the world, but the only one to have a stone from the House in Loreto.

According to tradition, the Holy House of Loreto is the house of the Holy Family from Nazareth, where the Virgin Mary was born and the Annunciation and Incarnation of our Lord took place, and also where the Holy Family lived after returning from Egypt. When the house was threatened by the invading Turks, by God’s intervention, on May 10, 1291, it was transported by angels several times until it finally reached Loreto, Italy in 1294. Today it is enshrined inside the magnificent Basilica of Loreto, like a jewel set in a treasure case.  An aura of holiness envelops the small house and many popes, saints and pilgrims have come here to pray over the centuries. Its stones, which have been identified as commonly found in Nazareth, are considered precious relics and are treated as such.

Blueprint from Loreto

The USA house was constructed from a blueprint of the House of Loreto with the same dimensions, 13 ft. x 31-1/4 ft. Likewise, the USA house was built of native stone found in Washington, N.J.  The relic stone that came from the Holy House of Loreto was a gift to the Blue Army from Archbishop Sabbatini of Loreto and Archbishop Capovilla, former personal secretary of Pope St. John XXIII. The stone was so precious that it arrived in a silver box lined with blue velvet. It measured four inches wide by one-half inch thick. A small piece of the stone was placed in the cornerstone of the house and the rest was ground into a fine powder to be distributed throughout the walls in the mortar. So the home that the Holy Family lived in is truly part of the walls of the Holy House, USA.

Holy artifacts

The sanctuary of the Holy House USA chapel contains statuary depicting the apparition of the most Holy Trinity that Sister Lucia experienced in the Dorothean convent at Tuy, Spain on June 13, 1929. The altar is part of the original altar of Tuy over which the apparition appeared and the words grace and mercy flowed down like water.

In a sidewall is a reliquary containing the largest extant piece of the holm oak tree upon which Our Lady appeared at Fatima. A relic of the True Cross is also preserved there, along with some 17 other relics of saints and martyrs.

Above the doorway is a statue of Our Lady of Loreto, a replica of the original statue at the Holy House in Loreto, which was crowned by Pope St. John XXIII who came there to pray to Our Lady for the success of the Second Vatican Council. Photographs of this event captured the image smiling at him.

The replica statue was sent as a gift from Cardinal Sabbatini, along with a star-shaped chandelier that hung over the Holy House of Loreto beneath the great basilica dome for 100 years. Many great saints and holy people have stood beneath the chandelier, including St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Bosco and St. Maximillian Kolbe. Millions of people have prayed at the Holy House, USA, a peaceful place of holiness and grace.

40 years of honor to the Immaculate Heart

In addition to the Holy House, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Shrine, which was dedicated on October 13, 1978 by Bishop Ahr of Trenton. The shrine was to be a place of pilgrimage and prayer for the World Apostolate of Fatima/Blue Army, devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Its roof forms a brown mantle, representing Our Lady’s protection and reminding us of the brown scapular. It has a simple design, constructed with eight sections forming an eight-pointed star, five representing the mysteries of the Rosary and three representing the children. The center structure stands 130 feet tall, topped by a crown of 12 stars. Its dome represents the world and forms the base for a 24-foot bronze statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The statue faces the valley to the south, welcoming all with open arms.

Over these 45 years, the shrine has been a place of peace and prayer for millions of visitors. Many groups and individuals come on retreat at the Holy House. The busiest time is May through October, when the six Fatima apparitions are commemorated. The anniversary of the shrine will be celebrated on October 13, 2018.


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