The pastor and faithful at Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Novato welcomed the news that Pope Francis has decreed a new optional feast, Dec. 10, to honor their patron saint.

A decree published Oct. 31 by the Congregation for Divine Worship set the optional December feast day for Our Lady of Loreto, who since the Middle Ages has symbolized the holy family and the sacredness of all families and has heard the prayers of millions seeking solace, intercession and guidance in their vocation.

“Excellent and very ‘new’ news!” said Our Lady of Loretto parochial vicar Father Tony Vallecito, who thinks the decree will be an opportunity to get to know more about Our Lady of Loreto. “We are going to have to do something with the community that day.”

“I am very happy because I have always fought to give more recognition to the Virgin of Loreto,” parishioner Alma Pech said. “I hope that at least we can do a Mass and a rosary in her honor on December 10.”

The Holy House of Mary in Loreto, Italy, has been a popular pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages with Galileo, Mozart, Descartes, Cervantes, St. Therese of Lisieux and many popes and saints visiting throughout history.

Pope Francis visited the Holy House in Loreto earlier this year on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, during which he called Loreto “a privileged place where young people can come in search of their vocation.”

The above comes from a Nov. 15 story on Catholic San Francisco.