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Townsville, Queensland, Australia
July 28, 2006
From journal Prague Bits and Pieces
September 29, 2004
The early 18th-century facade of this curious building is a wonderful piece of baroque whimsy, with 27 bells that play the hymn "We Greet Thee A Thousand Times" on the hour; you will get to hear it at least once while queuing to get in. Inside are a number of buildings as curios as the facade. The Church of the Nativity of Our Lord features a surreal interior that includes the skeletal remains of St Felicissima and St Marcia. The Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrow is constructed around the remains of St Starosta, the legendary bearded daughter of the King of Portugal, who escaped an arranged marriage by growing a beard with divine assistance.
Central to the complex however is the Loreta itself, one of a series of replicas of the Santa Casa in the Italian town of Loreto that dot Christendom. The original is supposedly the home of the Virgin Mary that was transported from Nazareth to the Italian town by angels to rescue it from the advancing Turkish troops. This replica has an awe-inspiring silver altar that is merely preparation for the magnificent treasury on the first floor of the complex. Crammed with gold, silver, and jewels, despite being looted no less than four times, this impressive collection remains a suitable testament to the wealth of its founders.
Like most of the big attractions of Prague, the Loreta is choked by tour groups and getting through the chaotic throng that passes for the front gate can be something of a mission that requires a great deal of perseverance and patience, but it is, just about, worth it.
From journal Prague’s Castle District: A Very Bohemian Capital