Feast of the Dedication of Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snow, Feast of ("Dedicatio Sancta- Maria; ad Nives"), a feast celebrated on 5 August to commemorate the dedication of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The church was originally built by Pope Liberius (352-366) and was called after him "Basilica Liberii" or "Liberiana". It was restored by Pope Sixtus III (432-440) and dedicated to Our Lady. From that time on it was known as "Basihca S. Mariae" or "Mariae Majoris"; since the seventh century it was known also as "Maria ad Praesepe" (Our Lord's Crib is preserved as a relic within the Church). The appellation "ad Nives" (of the snow) (originated a few hundred years later, as did also the Iegend which gave this name to the church. The legend runs thus: During the pontificate of Liberius, the Roman patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to Our Lady. They prayed her that she might make known to them in what manner they were to dispose of their property in her honour. On 5 August, during the night, snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline Hill and, in obedience to a vision which they had the same night, they built a basilica, in honour of Our Lady, on the spot which was covered with snow. Originally the Feast was celebrated only at Sta Maria Maggiore; in the fourteenth century it was extended to all the churches of Rome and finally it was made a universal feast by Pope Pius V.


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