Origin of the devotion to Our Lady of the snow

One of the oldest Marian devotions of the West: Rome, 4th century

Our Lady of the Snow of Rome

Our Father liked to recall the tradition of” Our Lady of the Snow” of Rome. the dedication of the Basilica, Saint Major Mary, built on Esquiline ,in one of the seven hills of Rome, is celebrated, each year on the 5th of August . This day, in Rome, one does not speak about “dedication of Saint Major Mary” but the Feast of “ Our Lady of the Snow” because of the existing Roman tradition:

God wanted a Basilica built in Rome in honour of the Mother of His Son. The Roman Patrician Giovanni and his wife, in the night from the 5th to the 6th of August 358, had a spiritual experience that deeply marked them. They understood (by a dream or an appearance) that the Holy Virgin asked them to build a church in her honour in a place, which would be indicated to them by a sign. Giovanni and his wife immediately went to meet the Pope Liberius and announced to him the request of the Holy Virgin. With the Pope, they sought and found the place indicated by the Holy Mary on the Esquiline hill . A miraculous snow marked the site of the future Basilica! In memory of this miraculous snow, the Holy Virgin was named under the title of Our Lady of the Snow! We can see in the chapel of Pauline the Basilica, above the altar, the representation of the scene, which shows the Pope Liberius certifying the miraculous snow and showing the site of the church. The church indicated by heaven in honour of Our Lady of the Snow was built, and after the Council of Ephesus (431)- which proclaimed Mary, Mother of God- this church was made bigger and decorated with magnificent mosaics.

The Mother of God could be honoured in Rome in the first Basilica of the world in her honour, where her name: Basilica of blessed Major Mary. But we should not forget that this Basilica Major is also the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snow. Our Father prayed, and thought for a better understanding of God’s intention with the sign of the Snow: He understood that the immaculate whiteness and bright snow was the best symbol most adapted to signify the purity of the immaculate Heart of Mary: nothing is whiter than snow!

It is important to also underline that the devotion of Our Lady of the Snow is dependent, since the council Ephesus (431), on the devotion of Mary ”Mother of God”.

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