Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Dedication Of The Church Of Our Lady Of The Snow. Feast Day 5 August.

Text from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal,
unless otherwise stated.

The Dedication of The Church of Our Lady of The Snow.
Feast Day 5 August.


White Vestments.

The Basilica of Our Lady of The Snow,
Rome, Italy.
Photo: March 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Sixtus.
(Wikimedia Commons)

This Church was built at Rome, on Mount Esquiline, in the 4th-Century, during the Pontificate of Pope Liberius. In the Middle Ages, a graceful and popular tradition ascribed its foundation to a noble Patrician, who, having been favoured with a Vision of Mary, caused the Church to be erected on a spot covered by a miraculous fall of snow.

This Sanctuary was rebuilt in the following Century and Dedicated by Pope Sixtus III, in 432 A.D., to Mary, whom the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.), had just proclaimed the Mother of God. The mosaics of the Triumphal Arch glorify this Divine Maternity, and the representations of the two Cities, of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, recall the Birth of Christ in the City of David, and that of the Church in the Cenacle of The Last Supper. These mosaics were restored in 1931-1934. The Basilica is also called Saint Mary of The Crib, because portions of the Crib are preserved here.

Saint Mary's, called Major because it is the largest and most important of the Churches Dedicated to The Blessed Virgin, is a Patriarchal Basilica. The great Nave is formed by two rows of forty-four Columns of White Marble and the Ceiling is covered with the first Gold brought from America.

In this Church, whose Dedication is Solemnised on this day, takes place many Celebrations, including: The inauguration of The Liturgical Year on the first Sunday in Advent; the Stations at Christmas; the Feast of Saint John; at Easter; on Rogation Monday; and on all Wednesdays in Ember Weeks.

Mass: Salve Sancta Parens.

The Miracle of the Snow,
observe Pope Liberius, who marks
in the legendary snowfall 
the outline of the Basilica.
Artist: Masolino da Panicale (1383–1440).
Date: 15th-Century.
Current location: Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.
Source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002.
ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The following Text is from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

The Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, previously known as Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ ad Nives (Dedication of The Church of Our Lady of The Snow), is a Liturgical Feast Celebrated on the 5 August in The Latin Form of The Catholic Church.

In the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, it has the Rank of Optional Memorial, and, in the General Roman Calendar of 1962, it is a Third-Class Feast. It commemorates the Dedication of the restored Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, by Pope Sixtus III, just after the First Council of Ephesus.

This Major Basilica, located on the summit of the Esquiline Hill, in Rome, is called the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Latin: Basilica Sancta Mariæ Majoris) because it is the largest Church in Rome Dedicated to The Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Basilica of Saint Mary Major,
Rome, Italy.
Photo Credit: Fr Kevin Estabrook

The Church was originally built during the Pontificate of Pope Liberius, and is thus sometimes known as the "Basilica Liberii" or"Basilica Liberiana".

Pope Pius V inserted this Feast into the General Roman Calendar in 1568, when, in response to the request of the Council of Trent, he reformed the Roman Breviary. Before that, it had been celebrated at first only in the Church itself and, beginning in the 14th-Century, in all the Churches of the City of Rome.

It thus appears in the Tridentine Calendar for Celebration as a Double. In Pope Clement VIII's Missal of 1604, it was given the newly-invented Rank of Greater Double. In Pope Saint John XXIII's Classification, it became a Third-Class Feast. This 1960 Calendar, included in the 1962 Edition of the Roman Missal, is the Calendar whose continued use privately and, under certain conditions, publicly, is authorised by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Nine years later, the Celebration became an Optional Memorial.

Interior of Saint Mary Major,
Rome, Italy.
Photo: 15 February 2013.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Until 1969, the Feast was known as Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ ad Nives (Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snow), a name that had become popular for the Basilica in the 14th-Century, in connection with a legend about its origin, that the Catholic Encyclopedia summarises: "During the Pontificate of Liberius, the Roman Patrician, John, and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary.

They Prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honour. On 5 August, at the height of the Roman Summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a Vision of the Virgin Mary, which they had the same night, the couple built a Basilica, in honour of Mary, on the very spot which was covered with snow.

English: Interior of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome.
Deutsch: Rom, Basilika Santa Maria Maggiore, Innenansicht.
Photo: 13 May 2003.
Source: Own work.
Author: Dnalor 01.
(Wikimedia Commons)

No Catholic Church can be honoured with the title of Basilica, unless by Apostolic Grant, or from Immemorial Custom. Saint Mary Major is one of only four Basilicas that today hold the title of Major Basilica. The other three are Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter and Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls. (The title of Major Basilica was once used more widely, being attached, for instance, to the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi.) All the other Catholic Churches that, either by Grant of the Pope, or by Immemorial Custom, hold the title of Basilica, are Minor Basilicas.

Interior of Saint Mary Major,
Rome, Italy.
Photo: 15 February 2013.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Until 2006, the four Major Basilicas, together with the Basilica of Saint Lawrence-outside-the-Walls, were referred to as the five "Patriarchal Basilicas" of Rome, associated with the five ancient Patriarchal Sees of Christendom (see Pentarchy). Saint Mary Major was associated with the Patriarchate of Antioch. In the same year, the title of "Patriarchal" was also removed from the Basilica of Saint Francis, in Assisi.

The former five Patriarchal Basilicas, with the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and San Sebastiano fuori le mura, formed the traditional Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, which are visited by Pilgrims to Rome, following a 20 kilometres (12 miles) itinerary, established by St Philip Neri on 25 February 1552, especially when seeking the Plenary Indulgence in Holy Years. For the Great Jubilee of 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II replaced Saint Sebastian's Church with the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.

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