The Holy Father John Paul II first came to Loreto in 1979 to pray for the success of the planned papal visit to the UN and the United States. He said then: "I came to Loreto as a humble pilgrim to worship the Blessed Virgin and pray to her in one of the most famous Marian shrines in Italy.
In 1985 he came to Loreto just before Easter to address the Congregation of the Italian Church and to appeal for Christian reconciliation. In 1994 he took part in the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Shrine of the Holy House. In 1995 he went to Loreto on the occasion of the European Youth Pilgrimage, where he met half a million young people. He celebrated mass for peace in Europe, families, immigrants, refugees and persecuted people. During his last visit to Loreto, in September 2004, he beatified three Catholic Action activists.
The Shrine of Loreto consists of the Basilica of the Pontifical Major Sanctuary, the Holy House of the Madonna of Loreto and the Holy House inside the Basilica. According to tradition, it is part of the house of Nazareth where Mary was born, raised and experienced the Annunciation and where Jesus Christ lived as a child.