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Maria Loreto, Starý Hroznatov, Cheb, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Commemorated on First Sunday of October
Maria Loreto, Starý Hroznatov, Cheb, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
On the first Sunday in October, 1664, Jesuits laid the foundation stone of the Loreto chapel near an old castle in Starý Hroznatov (German Altkinsberg), three miles outside the city of Cheb. The following year, on November 15, the statue of the Virgin and Child arrived from Loreto, Italy, where it had been blessed at the foot of the Black Madonna in the House of the Holy Family, believed to have been transported to Italy by angels. On July 7, 1667, the first mass was said in the chapel, followed by a procession. Soon regular pilgrimages were taking place from both Bohemia and Germany. A major devotional complex grew up on the site, with a large Way of the Cross and church, well attended into the 20th century. But after World War II, German residents of the area were expelled, and under the Communist regime, the shrine complex in the no-man's land on the German border fell steadily into ruin. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, pilgrims began returning to the site, and the exiled Hart family made its restoration possible. To fulfill a vow he had made as he lay wounded on a snowy Russian battlefield in the war, Anton Hart donated and raised money, starting a German society devoted to the revival of Maria Loreto in 1992. His sister Hermina had the damaged statue and its ornaments restored. As the Germans worked with the Czechs to restore the shrine, it became a locus for and symbol of Czech-German reconciliation and cooperation. The first official Czech-German pilgrimage took place October 10, 1993. Since then, it is held every first Sunday of October, to commemorate the shrine's foundation.    
On October 1, 1994, the Chapel was rededicated and on October 6, 1996, the Holy Spirit Church. On May 15, 2008, the 3' dark lindenwood statue, in a newly jeweled mantle of precious metal, returned to the shrine. Information and picture from parish website, Rímskokatolická farnost Cheb, www.farnostcheb.cz; see also the Association's site, Homepage des Fördervereins Maria Loreto e.V, www.maria-loreto.de.

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