LORETO CHAPEL

The belvedere of this baroque-style sanctuary built by Jean-François Reyff in 1648 offers the most beautiful view of Fribourg's old town.

A small, elegant cube, the Loreto chapel owes its existence to the authorities of the town of Fribourg who decided to build this chapel in order to bring peace to Switzerland in the 16th century, a time of discord.

Larger-than-life molasse statues are positioned on the exterior walls. They represent the four evangelists, two statues of Saint James, Saint Joachim and Saints Anne, Cléophée and Salomé. A starry dome, wooden railings and a statue of Our Lady of Loreto adorn the interior.

This chapel is one of the most successful creations of Jean-François Reyff, the versatile artist from Fribourg who was a sculptor, architect and fortifications engineer. His Virgin Marys are recognisable by their pensive, gentle faces.

The esplanade around the chapel offers an exceptional glimpse of the districts and bridges of Fribourg. The benches invite contemplation, while the geometric paving – note the paving stones placed on their edges – invites meditation. The path to the Loreto Chapel is tough for less athletic visitors, but you can travel up there by little train in the summer.

There are countless buildings dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto throughout the world. They are so called in reference to the city of Loreto in Italy's Marche region. The city's basilica is home to the Holy House (a perfectly reconstructed Palestinian house) where the Virgin Mary was born.

Legend has it that it was angels who installed the Holy House in Loreto. Fearing the arrival of Muslims in Nazareth, they are said to have transported it to Loreto in a single night. In memory of this episode, aviators have adopted the Virgin of Loreto as their protector.
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