Home The Lenten Station Churches of Rome Santa Maria Maggiore (Part 1)

Santa Maria Maggiore (Part 1)

A new video and a new podcast every day of Lent on the ancient tradition of the Lenten Station Church Pilgrimage. If you want to help with the cost of production, or show your appreciation, please consider becoming a Patron with Patreon or make a one time donation via Venmo. 🤍

Listen to the podcast for Saint Mary Major

Watch the 2019 video – it’s a good one!

Today we visit Santa Maria Maggiore, Saint Mary Major. This is our first of three visits to this church throughout Lent. Today we’ll discuss the story of how this basilica, also known as Our Lady of the Snows, came to be.

To truly appreciate the story, you must realize that Rome can be ridiculously hot in the summer. It is not uncommon for temperatures to reach the upper 90’s, or mid 30’s if you’re into Celsius, in August.

One typically hot August night in 352, Ioannes Patricius prayed for more meaning to his life. A wealthy man, he and his wife had already vowed to leave their fortune to the Church. As he slept, Mary appeared to him in a dream. She instructed him to use his money to erect a church in her honor where snow fell the next day.

The next morning he went to visit a friend, who also happened to be the Holy Father, Pope Liberius. He told him of his dream and, surprisingly, the pope had the same dream. Just then, the pope’s aide rushed in to tell him that snow was falling on Esquiline Hill. They headed to the spot and the Holy Father traced the outline of the church in the snow. Construction began immediately.

Every year on August 5, white rose petals are dropped from the ceiling to commemorate this event.

In 432, just after the Council of Ephesus affirmed that Mary truly was the Mother of God, Pope Sixtus III rebuilt the basilica and dedicated it the as the ‘major’ church in honor of Our Lady.

The next time we visit this basilica, we’ll explore the treasures inside.

You should buy my dad’s Lenten music.

The Catholic Traveler is only possible because of my generous Patrons. Please consider supporting my work with Patreon or Venmo. Thank you! 🤍