Prague Loreta is a holy shrine, called after the place in Italy, where the Casa Santa (Holy House) is situated. According to a legend, it is a house, where Virgin Mary used to live in Nazareth and it was brought to Italy by angels in 13 th century. Many holy shrines were built according to it around Europe, and Prague Loreta Shrine in the Castle District is one of them. It is a Marian pilgrimage place.
Prague Loreta was inspired by the Casa Santa built in Mikulov. Countess Katerina Benigna of Lobkowicz admired it so much, that she had the Loreta Shrine built in Prague. It was built by Giovanni Battista Orsi and finished by Andrea Allio. The shrine was consecrated in 1631.
The Casa Santa in Prague Loreta is situated in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by six chapels. There is a statue of Virgin Mary from 1620s inside.
In the Chapel of the Grievous Virgin Mary, there is a painting depicting crucifixion of St. Starosta (St. Liberata). She was allegedly a daughter of a Portuguese king and she refused to marry a heathen king of Sicily. She prayed to God for help and God made her look like a man with a beard. Her angry father crucified her for it.
The Church of Nativity, made by enlarging the middle chapel, is decorated with fresco painting by V. V. Reiner from 1738.
Prague Loreta Shrine has a big tower from 1693 with a famous chime. It was made in Amsterdam in 1694 and given to the shrine by Prague tradesman Eberhard of Glauchov. It has 27 bells, which don´t move, they ring when a musician plays on the fingerboard. It plays the song We Greet Thee a Thousand Times automatically every hour from 8 am to 6 pm.
Legend about the chime
There is a legend about the Loreta chime. It says that a poor woman used to live in the New World by the Prague Castle, and she had many children. Because of a plague, the children started dying one after another and their mother always paid a death knell for them. After all the children had died, she became ill as well. She had no money anymore and she thought, that nobody will even pay a death knell for her. At that moment, all the Loreta bells started ringing at once, and the woman died in peace.
There is a treasure in the Loreta shrine. It consists of monstrances, cups, altars and other votive objects. Most of them are from 17 th and 18 th century. The treasure is kept in the Treasure Room in the ground floor. The most interesting item is the Diamond Monstrance called “Prague Sun”. It is a gift from Countess Ludmila of Kolowrat, who got more than six thousand diamonds as a wedding gift from her third husband. In her last will she wrote, that a monstrance for Loreta should be made of these diamonds. The Diamond Monstrance was made in 1699. The oldest item of the Loreta Treasure is a Gothic cup from 1510.