Thursday, 20 July 2017

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major or Feast of Our Lady of Snows August 5, 2017

Introduction and History :

This Special Marian Feast is closely linked to the construction of the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore -- Saint Mary Major.

The particular feast of Our Lady of Snows has its origin and current vitality in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Although no longer, remembered today, there is evidence of this devotion.

They say the name that was given to the Chapel there since 1832-- was the Chapel of the Madonna Mora which came to be translated as "Santa Maria Maggiore".

A series of manuscripts found in the nearby Franciscan Library recalls the existence of such a feast. It was for the first time that in 1466, the feast was described as the Feast of "The Madonna of Snows".

A Miniature shows snow falling covering the area where the Church was to be built. This piece of Documentation hastened the spread of the devotion around the Fifteenth Century.

In the Fourth Century, during the Pontificate of Pope Liberius (352 - 366 A.D.) John, a noble and wealthy Roman Patrician had no child so He and his Wife decided to leave their inheritance to the Virgin desiring that a Church be built and Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In response to this, Mary herself appeared to them in a dream on the night between the 4th and 5th of August, the warmest time of the year in Rome and pointed out a place with a miracle where the Church was to be built.

The next day, the couple went to the Pope and told him of the dream and they were not surprised that he too had the same vision in which the Esquiline Hill was indicated as the place for the future construction.

As, They went up there, they found the place covered with snow. Pope Liberius traced the perimeter of the Church following the surface of the ground covered with snow and built there a Church with the Legacy of that devout couple.

Pope Sixtus -- The Third (432-440 A.D.) rebuilt it and made it much larger giving it the title of the "Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore" because it was the most prominent of all the Churches dedicated to Our Lady.

Since 1568, the official name of the liturgical feast was "Our Lady of Snows". It was later changed to "The Dedication of Santa Maria Maggiore" and left on the 5th of August.

Modern Day History :

The Miracle of the Snow -- not proven historically was forgotten even though there was no objection to its validity.

Every Year on the 5th of August, there is a shower of Rose White Petals within the confines of the Cathedral/Basilica.

The Miracle of the Snowfall is in fact reenacted before the eyes of the gathered congregation by means of a cascade of white petals that fall from the ceiling over the main altar, blanketing the ground below creating an almost ideal union between the Congregation and the Mother of God.

The Petals fall through a trap door on the coffered ceiling of the Basilica and last as long as the "Gloria" is sung.

Credits :

The Madonna of Snows By
Alfredo Pescante
Pages 29-30
Don Bosco's Madonna, Mumbai
August 2012, Vol -14, N0-4

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