The construction of the Prague Loreta was inspired by a saint shanty in Mikulov which was built by cardinal Diettrichstein. When Kateřina of Lobkovic saw this property she decided to build Loreta on her own plots. The main architect of this construction was Giovanni Batista Orsi. The origin of Loreta dates back to 1626 when the foundation stone of the holy hut was laid. In 1631 it was consecrated by cardinal Harrach.
Holy hut is considered to be the most precise copy of the native house of Our Lady of Loreto. It forms a part of the central courtyard surrounded by six chapels and decorated with reliefs made by Giovanni Bartolomeo Cometa. The alcove chapels in the cloisters were rebuilt between 1710 and 1718 by Kryštof Diezenhofer and the final appearance of the frontal building represents the work of his son Kilian Ignac.
Chapel Of Our Lady Of Sorrows
The most famous cloister‘s chapel is consecrated to Our Lady of Sorrows. Inside this chapel you can find the main altar including the oldest sculptural group of the entire complex – the Gothic pieta from the first half of the 15th century. On the side altar you can see crucifixion of saint Wilgefortis (Starosta) with a beard. The legend says that the St Starosta used to be a really pretty girl. Her father – a Portugese King – wanted her to marry a pagan Sicilan ruler. However, as a Christian she asked Heaven for help because she did not want to marry him. This prayer was answered by God. The following day she woke up as a man with a beard. The Sicilan king consequently refused to marry her. And this was the reason why she was crucified by her father. Now she represents a patron saint of people with sorrows. The beautiful fresco Adoration is the work of Felix Antonín Scheffler who also painted frescos in St. Anna’s chapel and in the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
The dominating feature of the frontage is the tower dating back to 1693. It houses the famous carillon which was constructed by the clockmaker Petr Neumann in 1694. The Renaissance chime consists of 27 bells of different sizes which were cast by the Dutch bellfounder Claudius Fremy. At the top of every hour, you can listen to Our Lady’s Song, heard here for the first time as early as in 1695.
Thanks to a financial gift from Katerina of Lobkovice, the treasury was founded on the ground floor in 1683. In 1882, it was modified to the designs of the architect Josef Mocker. The new treasure house was built on the first floor by K. Vacek in 1962. It contains ostensories, small altars, goblets and many valuable votive gifts dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The most remarkable and uniquely beautiful diamond monstrance can be found here. It was dedicated to Loreta by the countess Ludmila of Kolovrat. Her husband, younger by 35 years, had given her 6500 diamonds as a wedding present. In accordance with her last will the Viennese goldsmiths were entrusted with the task of creating the monstrance for Loreta. It was made of gilded silver and adorned with 6222 diamonds to the design of Johann Bernard Fischer of Ehrlach. The remaining diamonds were used as the salary for those artisans.
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