Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major – Feast Day – August 5 2023

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Today is Saturday, February 17, 2024

This feast day of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major has the rank of a memorial and is celebrated by the Catholic Church every year on August 5.

Before 1960, the feast was called the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary of the Snows. This emanated from the same legend that outlines the emergence of the feast of Our Lady of the Snows.

Although the reference to the legend was discontinued during the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969.

The feast commemorates the dedication of this major basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore by Pope Sixtus III. This basilica had been rebuilt at the same spot on the summit of the Esquiline Hill in Rome where Pope Liberius had initially built it in mid 4th century AD.

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major - Feast Day - August 5
Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major – Feast Day – August 5 2023
Feast Day August 5

History of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major

There are in Rome three patriarchal churches, in which the Pope officiates on different festivals. These are the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s on the Vatican Hill, and St. Mary Major.

This last is so called because it is, both in antiquity and dignity, the first church in Rome among those that are dedicated to God in honor of the Virgin Mary.

The name of the Liberian Basilica was given because it was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated, under the title of the Virgin Mary, by Sixtus III, about the year 435 AD.

Today’s feast is also referred to as the Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snows (Sanctae Mariae ad Nives).

This originated from a popular tradition that during the pontificate of Pope Liberius, there was a Roman patrician John, and his wife, who were without heirs. They made a vow to donate their wealth to the Virgin Mary.

They prayed to the Virgin Mary to show them how they would dispose of their property in her honour. On August 5 of that year, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill.

The couple saw this as a vision from the Virgin Mary and therefore they built a basilica in honour of Mary on the very spot that was covered with snow.

Today St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world dedicated to Our Lady.

Several shrines, parishes, and Churches are named after Our Lady of the Snows. Some of them are:

  • National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, USA
  • Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Reno, Nevada
  • Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Queens, New York
  • Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Milford, Michigan
  • Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Woodstock, Vermont
  • Our Lady of Snows Catholic Church, Raia, Goa, India
  • Our Lady Of Snows Catholic Church, South Thamarai Kulam, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Kostol Panny Márie Snežnej, Calvary Hill in Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Church of Our Lady of the Snow in Pupnat, Korcula Island, Croatia
  • The Church of Our Lady of the Snows, Marsaxlokk, Malta

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About Laban Thua Gachie 10720 Articles
The founder of Catholicreadings.org is Laban Thua Gachie. I am a Commissioned Lector, a commissioned Liturgy Minister, and a Commissioned member of the Catholic Men Association. We at Catholic Daily Readings, operate the catholicreadings.org, a Catholic Church-related website and we pride ourself in providing you, on a daily basis the following; 1. Catholic Daily Mass Readings 2. Reflections on those Daily Readings 3. Daily prayers 4. Bible Verse of the Day 5. Saint of the Day