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town and episcopal see, Marche region, central Italy, on the Musone River just south of Ancona and near the Adriatic coast. It is a noted pilgrimage resort famous for the Santa Casa, or Holy House of the Virgin. According to tradition, the Santa Casa, threatened with destruction by the Turks in 1291, was carried from Nazareth by the ministry of angels and deposited on a hill at Tersatto in Dalmatia; there an alleged appearance of the Virgin and miraculous cures attested to its sanctity. In 1294 it was similarly transported across the Adriatic to a laurel grove (lauretum, whence Loreto) near Recanati and in 1295 from there to its present site