August 5, 2016
Happy Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major! I couldn’t let this Marian feast day pass without drawing some attention to it. According to the Golden Legend story, this historic church has a miraculous beginning. During the pontificate of Pope Liberius (352 AD – 366 AD), a patrician of Rome named Johannes prayed for greater meaning in his life. Mother Mary appeared to him in a dream, asking that a church be built in her honor where they found snow the next day. The next morning, Johannes shared his dream with his friend, the pope, who shared that he had experienced the same dream. At that moment, a messenger rushed into the room to tell the news that there was “snow on the Esquiline!” Together, Johannes and the pope went to the Esquiline, one of the Seven Hills of Rome, where it had indeed miraculously snowed in the middle of the summer. The pope outlined the edges of a great church with his crosier in the snow, and the church in Mary’s honor was built. Today the church that stands, St. Mary Major, was built on the remains of an older church and dedicated in 432 AD shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, which affirmed Mary as the Mother of God. The church is also referred to as “Our Lady of Snows”.
May Mother Mary continue to protect our families and, like a blanket of pure white snow, cover us with blessings.