Mary’s Impact on Local Real Estate
Our Lady of Loreto is an image of Mary that graces the city from many niches and doors and this version of the Virgin is all about real estate. The house Mary grew up in, and the same home Jesus lived in for his first 30 years, was still around in the 1200s. Mary looks down from Heaven one day to see a battle going on by her old home so she comes down, picks up her house, and flies it across the Mediterranean Sea to place the home in Loreto, Italy. When you next step out Starbucks look up and across the street to see a stone image of Mary mid-move.
The bank across the street from Starbucks was once the home of the Canal family that chose Our Lady of Loreto to represent their family and give them good fortune back during the Inquisition.
Because the flight to Loreto was a long one Mary loses her arms and hands and that’s how you can recognize this Virgin in art. Despite holding a baby Jesus, she has no arms or hands!
The Canal family builds the street named Loreto in her honor and in the Oratorio they build an exact replica of her house in Loreto, Italy. You can view it anytime they aren’t having mass as it is the chapel to the left of the altar. Our house of Loreto is the same size and building materials as the home in Italy except our version only has three walls. Ironically for a Virgin with no arms or hands, it represents her open arms to let anyone into her chapel.
The chapel represents Mary’s living room and kitchen area. If you go down the side hall and a back door is open, that leads you to a chapel that was Mary’s bedroom.
The La Ermita church, located by the Mirador on the road to Querétaro, was built in 1736 to honor the Lady of Loreto as travelers then entered, or left, the city. Also built by the Canal family, La Ermita church was constructed to be near neighboring Canal family relatives’ homes and was a favored church frequented by the Otomi tribes. The same native and self-taught architect that designed the Parroquia did La Ermita.
Our Lady of Loreto was appointed Grand Patroness of San Miguel in Sept. 8, 1736 and played a pivotal role in the War of Independence from Spain in 1810.
In 1810 the festival of the Lady of Loreto was celebrated with the local heroes of the revolution against Spain days before the rebellion started. Allende, and the others, placed great faith in the power of Mary and the festival contained processions of various groups (military, women, youth choirs, etc.) with the statue of Mary that now resides permanently in her chapel in the Oratorio.
The Spanish realized a revolution was brewing but would not confront the rebels during the festival for the Lady of Loreto. The rebels learned of this and the war started a few days later, September 15th.
More recently, a Senor Montes, when building a new neighborhood on the then out-skirts of town named the area in her honor, Montes de Loreto. On Sunday the ninth there will be all day celebrations at her namesake chapel, a rare circular church in San Miguel.
Celebrations in centro focus on the street named Loreto featuring food, fireworks, dancers and many mechanical rides for small children. Near the Calazada de la Luz intersection with Lareto is a lovely altar honoring the Virgin Mary each year. Originally this festival was celebrated by the Spanish families living on Lareto, but is now open to all. The money generated from this festival later funds the activities for the following year’s Holy Week’s Good Friday.
Each year a grand procession leaves the Oratorio on the eighth to return for a fiesta. September eighth also happens to be Mary’s birthday with another grand procession and party for Mary at the church next door on Plaza Civica.
Eight days following, celebrations continue at La Ermita church featuring a huge fireworks display in the jardin. For an arm-less, Italian version of Mary she has had quite the impact on San Miguel de Allende in the past and every September.