The Holy House USA at the Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Washington, N.J., is an exact replica of the Holy House of Loreto in Italy. It is one of several replicas in the world, and the only one to have an actual stone from the Holy House of Loreto, in Italy. In 2019, Pope Francis added the feast of Our Lady of Loreto to the Universal Church calendar on Dec. 10, to honor a title for the Blessed Mother, based on the holy house in which she lived.
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, 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 St. John XXIII. The stone was so precious that it arrived in a silver box lined with blue velvet. It measured 4 in. wide by 1/2 in. 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.
The sanctuary of the Holy House USA chapel contains statuary depicting the vision 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 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.
A SHRINE FOR OUR LADY OF FATIMA
The Holy House USA was dedicated on August 22, 1973, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, by Bishop George W. Ahr of the diocese of Trenton. It is a place of worship for the people of God, built by the Blue Army under its founder, John Haffert’s, direction, and one of the main attractions at the Blue Army Shrine.
The Blue Army Shrine was built in 1978, surrounded by 150 acres of land donated by John Haffert. It is a place of pilgrimage, prayer and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as the headquarters of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA. The roof of the shrine 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 Fatima 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.
The shrine grounds include the Fatima Retreat Center, built adjacent to the Holy House USA, a Rosary garden, a replica of the Capelinha (Chapel of Apparitions) in Fatima, a gift shop and other points of interest. Pilgrims from all over the world have visited and prayed here, including Mother Angelica, St. Teresa of Calcutta and members of royal families. During the main Fatima season, May 13 – October 13, thousands of people come for prayer and worship and to honor Our Lady of Fatima. Mass is held daily at 12 noon, as well as confession and Rosary. Learn more at bluearmy.com, or call 1-908-689-1700, ext. 210.