A Loreto Chapel (also Loretto Chapel , Loreto Church , Maria Loreto ) is a the patronage of Our Lady of Loreto consecrated religious building. As a rule, it is an architectural replica of the Santa Casa (" Holy House ") within the basilica of the Holy House in Loreto in the Italian pilgrimage site of Loreto near Ancona . According to legendary tradition, angels are said to have transferred the house of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Loreto in today's Marche region in the 13th century .
The house of Mary in Nazareth
The numerous Loreto chapels, first built in Italy in the 16th century and then in the rest of Europe and overseas, were built in honor of Our Lady of Loreto, whose liturgical feast day is on December 10th. The so-called Santa Casa , the Holy House, in the Marian pilgrimage site of Loreto near the Italian Adriatic coast served as a model for the architecture and the painting of these chapels . This small chapel, encased in marble reliefs since the 16th century, stands today within the basilica of the Holy House in Loreto (Santuario Basilica Pontificia della Santa Casa di Loreto) and has been in this place since 1294. According to Christian tradition, these are said to be the structural elements of the simple house in which the Mother of God lived in Nazareth and which, according to legendary tradition, were transported from Nazareth via intermediate stations to Loreto (1294) in 1291.
Archaeological research and excavations in Nazareth from 1954 to 1960 have shown that a simple stone house without foundations stood next to the grotto that still exists today, the size of which is completely the same as those of the Santa Casa in Loreto. The three walls adjoining the grotto had a circumference of approx. 9.5 x 4 m.
There are indications that Jewish Christians designed this house and the grotto behind it as a place of worship and built a synagogue- style church over it. This simple construction was followed by a three-aisled basilica in the 5th century. Around 1099 a new church was built by crusaders on the ruins of the old one and in 1170 it was converted into an even larger cruciform basilica with a crypt that enveloped the house of Mary. This church was destroyed in 1263 by the governor of Sultan Baibars I. In this area there were pilgrim inscriptions in Greek up to the year 1289, which tell of the destruction. It is also noticeable that after 1291 the pilgrims no longer spoke of the house of Mary , but only of the - originally - grotto behind it. This grotto, carved into the rock, is still venerated today in the modern Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth as the “hostel of Mary”.
The legend of the transfer to Loreto
After Jerusalem was captured by the Muslims in 1244 and the last crusade failed, the Crusaders tried to save what could be saved from the holy places of Christianity in Palestine , including the "House of Mary" in Nazareth. According to a legend that originated in the 15th century, angels brought the little house in which Maria lived in Nazareth from Nazareth to Trsat / Tersatto (now part of Rijeka / Croatia) in 1291 and then to the vicinity of Recanati near Ancona in 1294 have transported. This report is a typical miracle tale of the time, written down in 1468 by Pietro di Giorgio Tolomei from Teramo, the provost at the time in Loreto. The "Holy House" then came from Recanati to Loreto, where it was converted into a chapel and named Santa Casa of Loreto, probably after the local laurel grove (lat. Lauretum ).
The transfer of the Holy House to Loreto
The parts of the Holy House in Nazareth that were transferred in the 13th century mainly include the stones from the lower layers of the three enclosing walls that were attached to the grotto of Nazareth.
The two strands of the legend of the transmission of the Holy House of Nazareth across the Mediterranean , namely either carried through the air by angels or transported by ship accompanied by angels, have been commented on in artistic representations since the 14th century, of which the most important to be mentioned here:
a) Around 1350: Two standing angels carry the Holy House, fresco in the right aisle of the Chiesa di San Marco in Jesi near Ancona (picture a).
c) Early 16th century: Transfer of the Holy House to Loreto, probably from Bruges , oil on panel, 54 × 37 cm (picture c).
d) Around 1530: Transfer of the Santa Casa, relief on the marble cladding of the Holy House in Loreto by Francesco Da Sangallo .
e) 1532: Transfer of the Holy House, copper engraving based on the model of the marble cladding in the Basilica of Loreto.
f) 1567: Transport of the Holy House, copper engraving by Joannes Baptista de Cavalleriis from Wolf-Dietrich's adhesive tape “City Pictures” (Salzburg University Library).
g) 16th century: Transfer of the Holy House, relief in the Basilica of Loreto.
h) 1604–1605: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio , Our Lady of Loreto
i) 16./17. Century: Cesare Nebbia, transfer of the Santa Casa , Rome, Vatican Museums.
j) Around 1740: Joseph Sebastian and Johann Klauber: Miraculous image of Loreto with excerpts from the Lauretanian litany and the transmission of the “Holy House”, Augsburg.
k) 1743: Flight of the Marienhaus to Loreto, painting by Giambattista Tiepolo as a draft for a ceiling fresco of the church Santa Maria di Nazareth (Scalzi) in Venice , today in the J. Paul Getty Museum (original destroyed in Venice in 1915).
l) Around 1744: “Salzburg design” for this ceiling fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo, Salzburg Baroque Museum .
m) Around 1744: Flight of the Marienhaus to Loreto, painting by Giambattista Tiepolo, Accademia (Venice) - (picture m).
n) 1755: Our Lady with the Santa Casa carried by angels, painting by Francesco Foschi, Museo Antico Tesoro, Loreto.
o) 1768: Transfer of the "Holy House" to Loreto, ceiling fresco by Johann Wolfgang Baumgartner in the confessional chapel of the pilgrimage church of St. Maria of Loreto on the Kobel in Westheim (Neusäß) near Augsburg (picture o).
p) Around 1770: Transfer of the Holy House to Loreto, fresco in the Loreto Chapel in Oberglogau, Upper Silesia (Domek loretański w Głogówku, Poland).
Description and equipment of the Santa Casa
The Holy House in Loreto consists of a rectangular room with the three original walls, which are made of natural stone in the lower part and supplemented with brickwork above. As before in Nazareth, it has no foundation and has the same dimensions (32 feet long, 10 feet wide and 18 feet high). The natural stones used do not occur in this area; the stone surfaces are said to have been worked with a special technique used by the Nabataeans , a neighboring people of the Hebrews ; Incidentally, this small house did not correspond to the local building tradition in the Marche region, but to the construction method customary in Palestine at the time.
There is one entrance each on the north and south walls; the relatively dark interior receives light only through a small window in the west wall. On the three walls of the original building there are said to have been sparse remains of an older painting; the ceiling was sky blue and decorated with gold stars. The brick wall parts were then adorned with frescoes from the Umbrian school in the 14th and 15th centuries and reworked again in 1625; Since the fire in 1921, only fragments of it have been preserved in the chapel . a. Mary with the Child and Saints Bartholomew , Anthony the Hermit , the Knight George and Catherine of Alexandria . The Byzantine cross next to the angel window, which was painted in the style of Giunta Pisano (13th century), was largely preserved.
The sanctuary had to be protected by walls and towers very early on. From 1468 it was built over with the basilica of the Holy House in Loreto. In 1536 the Santa Casa was also given a vault. The copper engraving Laureto in Italia by Daniel Meisner from 1625 shows the magnificent overall arrangement of the basilica and monastery buildings on the hill above the city of Loreto .
The actual Marienhaus, the Santa Casa , stands under the mighty dome in the center of the basilica, surrounded by thirteen chapels that were donated and designed by different nations, including a German chapel. In the years 1511 to 1534 a monumental marble cladding was built around the Santa Casa . According to the plans of Domenico Bramante , Italian artists made reliefs depicting the life of Mary as well as statues of prophets and sibyls in arched niches. This gave the Santa Casa the character of a huge reliquary .
In the early days, an icon of Mary was worshiped in the Santa Casa . Because this had become unrecognizable by the constant smoke of the sacrificial candles and oil lamps, it was replaced at the beginning of the 16th century by a carved statue , which was then also blackened by the smoke. After it was destroyed in the fire of 1921, this too had to be replaced by a sculpture (140 cm high) carved from the wood of a Lebanon cedar by Leopold Celani , in which the incarnate parts were artificially darkened in order to retain the familiar image of the Black Madonna . It is a Madonna and Child dressed in dalmatic , both with a golden crown, above which the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers in a halo.
Historical background and new research
Archaeologists and art historians have not been satisfied with the traditional half-truths and the formation of legends, but have examined both the history of the "Holy House" in Nazareth and the pious legend of the transfer of the house to Loreto by angels. The most important sources include archaeological research from 1954 to 1960 in Nazareth and from 1962 to 1965 in Loreto. For the building in Loreto it was found that, contrary to the local building tradition, it has no foundations and is atypical in the province of Marche because of its building structure. The orientation of the chapel with the door in the north and the window in the west does not fit into the brands either, but can be explained by the former location in Nazareth. The fourth wall in the east was not necessary in Nazareth because the small house was open to the grotto, but in Loreto it was closed by an apse .
Of particular importance is a document found in the Vatican archives in 1900 about the donation of the “holy stones” in 1294, supplemented by the Chartularium culisanense published in 1985 , a collection of documents from the noble family of the Angeloi . These documents tell of a Nikephoros Angeloi who "gave sacred stones that were taken from the house of Notre Dame" to his daughter Thamar in 1294.
Older than the legend of the angels who are said to have carried the “Holy House” through the air over the Mediterranean Sea, there are isolated reports that the transmission was carried out by people on a ship, which is evident from woodcuts and frescoes from the 15th and 17th centuries 16th century. These pictures show the “Holy House” on a ship accompanied by angels.
Numerous references to Nazareth were also found in Loreto. Greek inscriptions and Christian graffiti with Hebrew letters , but no inscriptions in Latin or Italian , were found on the stones of the Santa Casa . In Loreto, two medieval coins were found under the building of the Santa Casa , which indicate the Byzantine noble family of the Angeloi , as well as five red fabric crosses from the coats of the Crusaders, which were walled in a cavity under the so-called angel window.
The historical core of the legend
On the basis of these facts, cross-connections and references, as well as evaluating the available specialist literature, Thaddäus Küppers has reconstructed the following course of history: In order to protect the "Holy House" from the threatened destruction in 1291 by the spreading Islam, it was broken down into parts and per Ship first brought to Tersatto in Illyria . The Crusaders were probably responsible for the translation, among them above all the family of Nikephorus I, named in the Vatican document, from the Byzantine noble family of the Angeloi, who lived in Epirus . The (Greek) family name Angeloi (in Latin angeli ) means "angel". Nikephorus was the son of Michael II , whose ancestors included the Comnenes . The document shows that Nikephoros had given the “holy stones” to his daughter Thamar Angelina Komnene as a dowry on the occasion of her wedding to Philip I of Taranto , the son of King Charles II (Naples) . The wedding is said to have taken place between August and October of the year 1294 in Abruzzo . In this way, the “holy stones” could have reached the vicinity of Recanati, today's Loreto near Ancona on the Adriatic coast, through the Angeloi (= angels), and thus in the Papal States of that time. So one believes to have provided evidence with some certainty that the stones of the Santa Casa in Loreto together with the rock grotto in Nazareth once formed the so-called “House of Mary”. That could mean that this legend also has a historical core. "Whether the mother of Jesus ever lived in this house and received the preaching here is (of course) a question of faith." The Catholic Church withholds a final judgment on these questions.
Spreading the worship of the Santa Casa
The veneration of the Santa Casa spread especially from 1450 beyond the Marche region and the Papal States of that time. Loreto became an important place of pilgrimage, visited by numerous pilgrims from near and far. During the devotions in front of the miraculous image in Loreto, the Lauretanian litany (lat. Litania lauretana = litany from Loreto) with the pictorial invocations of the Blessed Mother Mary is said to have been sung in the traditional form for the first time in 1531. This alternating song, which goes back to medieval roots, got its name from Loreto (lat. Lauretum ).
Especially in the German-speaking area, the Loreto chapels have been rebuilt according to the architectural type of the Santa Casa of Loreto, which is still visible inside and outside of some chapels to this day. The construction of the original was imitated as closely as possible as an architectural copy, because in this way, according to general opinion, the building had the function of a reliquary , which could be reached on shorter pilgrimages in place of the Santa Casa and venerated in this country. With these replicas it was found that the replica of the interior with the historical fresco remains from Loreto was more essential for the veneration than the exterior architectural design. The replicated interior of the Santa Casa made the many Loreto chapels the actual reliquary that could be walked in and experienced.
The reason for the construction of the Loreto chapels was often a vow or the expression of thanks by a pilgrim after returning from a pilgrimage to the Santa Casa in Loreto. The establishment of Loreto chapels was also part of the Counter Reformation movement ; Its construction was mainly promoted by the Jesuits and the Carmelites. Some Loreto chapels were later expanded into churches. Loreto has been the most important pilgrimage site in Italy after Rome since the 16th century. Visitors included regents, popes, clergy, scholars, artists, writers, military leaders, etc., including Emperor Charles IV , and Ferdinand II , Christopher Columbus , Galileo Galilei , Miguel de Cervantes , Giambattista Tiepolo , Michel de Montaigne , Torquato Tasso , René Descartes , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Napoleon Bonaparte , but also numerous saints such as Karl Borromeo , Ignatius of Loyola , Franz Xaver , Petrus Canisius , Francis of Sales , Therese of Lisieux and many Popes, most recently John XXIII. , Paul VI. , John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Only if you know this prehistory of the “Holy House” will you be able to understand why so many Loreto chapels with their unique construction and typical furnishings have been built in Central Europe since the end of the 15th century.
List of the most important chapels
(with founding dates, marked at the oldest chapels)
- Loreto Chapel in Aldersbach Monastery (1739)
- Loreto Chapel (Altomünster) near Dachau (1737)
- Pilgrimage Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary (Angerbach) in Lower Bavaria (1658)
- Loretto Chapel (Kronwinkel) near Biberach (1684)
- Loreto Chapel Binsdorf , City of Geislingen (1626)
- Loreto Chapel Maria Birkenstein ( Fischbachau ) (1710)
- Loreto Chapel in Brenken near Büren (1736)
- Loreto Chapel (Bühl am Alpsee) near Immenstadt (1666)
- Loreto Chapel Burgau / Swabia (1692)
- Loreto Chapel (Döpshofen) , district of Gessertshausen near Augsburg (1601)
- Loreto Chapel (Drensteinfurt) near Warendorf (1726)
- Loreto Chapel in Dürmentingen near Biberach an der Riss (1668)
- Loreto Chapel in Egesheim near Balingen (1743)
- Loreto Chapel in the Capuchin Monastery of Koblenz (1753)
- Loreto Chapel in Effeldorf near Dettelbach, today the choir of the Jakobskirche (1652)
- Loreto Chapel in Pfreimd- Eixlberg in the Upper Palatinate (1670)
- Loreto Chapel in Ellwangen , behind the high altar in the Schönenberg Church (1639)
- Loretto Chapel in Erbendorf in the Upper Palatinate (1857)
- Loretto Chapel (Freiburg im Breisgau) (1657)
- Loreto Chapel Pilgrimage Chapel Maria Alber (Friedberg) in Friedberg near Augsburg (1688)
- Loreto Chapel in the Capuchin Monastery Haslach (1660/1912)
- Loreto Chapel in Herxheim near Landau / Pfalz, also called Landau Chapel (1508/1681)
- Loreto Chapel in Hirschberg an der Bergstrasse in Wiser Castle (1737)
- Loreto Chapel of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary (Holtum) , Wegberg district, near Heinsberg (1684)
- Loreto Chapel in Hüfingen near Donaueschingen (1715)
- Loreto Chapel with Holy Stairs in Holzen Monastery , south of the monastery church (after 1740)
- Loreto Chapel Cologne, as Casa Santa in the Church of St. Maria in the Kupfergasse (1675)
- Loretto Chapel in Constance (1637)
- Loretto Chapel (Kronwinkel) in Tannheim near Biberach (1684)
- Loreto Church in the former Maria Loreto Monastery (Landshut) (1623)
- Loreto Chapel in the pilgrimage church of the Assumption of Mary (Ludwigshafen) , Oggersheim district (1729)
- Loreto Chapel in Mehlmeisel -Unterlind (1686)
- Loreto Chapel Neutrauchburg (1686)
- Loreto Chapel St. Nikolai am Gasteig (also Altöttinger Chapel) in Munich-Haidhausen (1678)
♁ Curate and pilgrimage church of St. Maria of Loreto (Westheim) , Neusäß near Augsburg (1602)
- Loreto Chapel (Obermedlingen) , district of Medlingen near Dillingen an der Donau (1757)
- Loretto chapels (Oberstdorf) (1657)
- Loreto Chapel in Reutberg Monastery , choir of the monastery church (1606)
- Loretto Chapel (Rohr in Niederbayern) (around 1670)
- Loreto Chapel in Rosenheim (1636)
- Loreto Chapel (Scheer) near Sigmaringen (1628)
- Loreto Chapel (Stätzling) near Friedberg (Bavaria) (1688)
- Loreto Chapel in Stockach , Lake Constance (1727)
- Loreto Chapel in the Capuchin Monastery of Stühlingen in Baden, chapel behind the chancel (1680)
- Loreto Chapel (Tettnang) (1624)
- Loreto Chapel (Thyrnau) near Passau (1622)
- Loreto Chapel (Türkheim) in the Unterallgäu district (1683)
- Loretto Chapel in Villingen-Schwenningen , Villingen district (1706)
- St. John Baptista (Hamlet) (1674)
- Loreto Chapel in the Klein-Jerusalem chapel in Willich-Neersen
- Loreto Chapel (Wolfegg) near Ravensburg (1668)
- Loreto Chapel in Zwiefalten (18th century)
♁ Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Loretto (Burgenland) with Loreto Chapel in the cloister (1644)
- Loreto Chapel in Millstatt Abbey (15th century)
♁ Pilgrimage Church of Maria Loreto (St. Andrä) (1647/1683)
- Maria Loreto (Strasbourg) , Carinthia (1650)
- Chapel in Maria-Loretto Castle on Lake Wörthersee (1660/1768) ( Klagenfurt district )
- Loreto Chapel next to the church in Walpersdorf Castle (1619)
- Chapel extension at the parish church in Straß in the Straßertal valley (1637)
♁ Loretokirche (Salzburg) (1633), monastery church of the Capuchin Sisters of Eternal Adoration, with the Loretokindl
- Lorettokapelle St. Jakob am Thurn, Puch near Hallein (1754)
- Loreto Chapel on the north side of the Neuberg collegiate church (second half of the 15th century)
- Loreto Chapel Barmherzigenkirche (Graz) (1651)
- Loreto Church Gutenberg an der Raabklamm (1691)
- Loretto Chapel Burg Oberkapfenberg (approx. 1850/1972)
- Loreto Chapel at the Trinity Church (Trofaiach) (1713)
- Loretto Chapel in Festenburg Castle in Sankt Lorenzen am Wechsel (1709)
- Loretto Chapel in the Vorau Abbey of the Augustinian Canons (around 1700)
- Loreto Chapel (Längenfeld) (1732)
- Lorettokapelle (Thaur) near Hall (1589), oldest Loreto pilgrimage in German-speaking countries
♁ Parish church Jedlesee , Maria Loretto Church (1713/1779)
- Loreto Chapel in Freiburg im Üechtland (1648)
- Loreto Chapel in the Hergiswald pilgrimage church (Kriens) (1648)
- Loreto Chapel in Solothurn (1649)
- Loreto Chapel on the Ennerberg, Buochs (Nidwalden)
- Loreto Chapel in Bürglen (UR) (1661)
- Loreto Chapel Klingnau (1662)
- Loreto Chapel (Leibstadt) (1672)
- Loreto Chapel in Lichtensteig (Toggenburg) (1678)
- Loreto Chapel in Mägenwil (1699)
- Loreto Chapel (Muri Monastery) , Aargau (1698), with Habsburg crypt since 1970
- Loreto Chapel Chromen in Tuggen (1693)
- Loreto Chapel Biberegg near Rothenthurm SZ (1701)
- Loreto Chapel in Zug , on Löbernstrasse (1703)
- Village chapel Maria Lauretana in Sarnen / OW, village square (1556)
- Loreto Chapel in Thorn (Limburg)
- Loreto Chapel in Hájek Monastery near Prague (1630)
- Loreto Chapel in Mikulov (ca.1650)
- Maria Loreto (Starý Hrozňatov) near Cheb (1663)
- Pilgrimage Church of Maria Loreto in Bor u Tachova (1668)
- Loreto Chapel in the former Augustinian monastery in Bohemian Leipa (Česká Lípa) (1698)
- Loreto Chapel in Rumburk (1704)
- Loreto Chapel in the Minorite Church in Brno (1733)
- Loreto chapel in Týnec (Klatovy district) (1783)
- Loreto Chapel in the Franciscan Church (Bratislava) (1756)
- Loreto Chapel (Oberglogau) , Upper Silesia (1630) (Domek loretański w Głogówku)
- Loreto Chapel (Leubus) (around 1710)
- Loretto Chapel in Murbach (Alsace) (1693)
- Notre-Dame-de-Lorette near Ablain-Saint-Nazaire (18th century)
♁ Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (Paris) (1823)
♁ Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto in the Marche region (1468–1587)
- Santa Maria di Loreto (Rome) (1522–1573)
- Loreto Chapel in Maria Saalen near St. Lorenzen (1653)
- Loreto Chapel at the Capuchin Monastery in Klausen (1702)
- Loreto Church in Steinhaus im Ahrntal (1704)
- Loreto Chapel in Winnebach (1650)
- Igreja do Loreto in Lisbon (1755/1785)
Chapels with historical architecture or furnishings
- Pilgrimage Church of St. Maria of Loreto (Westheim) , Neusäß near Augsburg (1602)
- Loreto Chapel in Reutberg Monastery, choir of the monastery church (1606)
- Loretto Chapel in Konstanz, Allmannsdorf district, Staaderberg (1637)
- Loretto Chapel on the Lorettoberg in Freiburg im Breisgau (1657)
- Loreto Chapel in the Capuchin Monastery Haslach (1660/1912)
- Loreto Chapel in Bühl am Alpsee (1666)
- Loreto Chapel (Wolfegg) near Ravensburg (1668)
- Lorettokapelle in Villingen-Schwenningen district Villingen (1705)
- Loreto Chapel in Pfarrkirchen im Mühlkreis, Upper Austria (1694)
- Maria Loretto Chapel, Klagenfurt, Carinthia
- Loreto Chapel in Freiburg im Üechtland (1648)
- Loreto Chapel in the Hergiswald pilgrimage church (Kriens) (1648)
- Loreto Chapel in Solothurn (1649)
- Loreto Monastery in Prague Loreto on the Hradschin in Prague (1626/1750)
- Loreto Chapel in Bor / Haid near Tachov / Tachau (1668, 1683 extension of the cloister)
- Loreto Chapel (Oberglogau) , Upper Silesia (1630)
- Baldassare Bartoli: Historical description of the Holy House at Loreto , Frankfurt 1725.
- Pietro Valerio Martorelli: Teatro istorico della S. Casa della B. Virgine Mariae sue ammirabile traslazione in Loreto , Rome 1773, volume I - II.
- Gebhard Kresser: The truth about Loreto: According to the latest excavations and research with plans and historical Loreto pictures . Styria, Graz 1926.
- Josef Dotter: The wall paintings in the Freiburg Loreto Chapel are traced back to their origins . In: Schau-ins-Land 54/55, 1929, pp. 19-25 (digitized version).
- Bellarmino Bagatti: Excavations in Nazareth , Vol. I and II, Jerusalem 1969 and 2002.
- Floriano Grimaldi: The Santa Casa of Loreto , Loreto 1971.
- Floriano Grimaldi, Katy Sordi: La Villa di Santa Maria di Loreto - Documenti . Ancona 1990.
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- Thaddäus Küppers: The Holy House of Loreto . Regensburg 1994 (with further references).
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- Michael Hesemann: Maria von Nazareth - history, archeology, legends , Augsburg 2012, p. 97f. and 110
- Thaddäus Küppers: The Holy House of Loret o, Regensburg 1994, p. 3 with further references
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- The Loreto Chapel in Stockach - Deanery Konstanz
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- Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 28, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Norbert Lieb: Pilgrimage Church of St. Maria of Loreto on the Kobel near Augsburg , Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 1980
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