PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS
Following the wish of Our Lady, a Basilica (known as Basilica Liberiana) was constructed on Mount Esquiline where Our Lady indicated that there would be a mysterious snowfall during August 5, 352 A.D.
After the declaration of the dogma of the divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in the Council of Ephesus (year 431), Pope Sixtus III added decorations and ornaments of silver on 424 A.D. and dedicated the Basilica to Mary, the Mother of God. From then the church was known as Basilica Sixti and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore [St. Mary Major], considered as the oldest Church in the West dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
The new basilica housed a celebrated painting (shown in our infographic with the prayer to Our Lady of the Snows) provided by the Pope Sixtus III. This painting had belonged to St. Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine—–the same Helen who, according to tradition, had made a pilgrimage to Palestine and discovered the original Cross of Christ. The picture, painted on a slab of cedar wood, is of a Madonna and Child, and popularly known as “Salus populi Romani” or “the Heath of the Roman people”. The infant Jesus is holding a book and both figures are haloed and crowned—–the crowns presented by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 as a thank-offering for deliverance from cholera.
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Pope Francis’ 2017 visit to St. Mary Major and pays respect to the icon of Salus Populi Romani
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