By Nora V. Clemente-Arnaldo
Before you read this article, let me ask you: How would you use the wealth that God, in His generosity, has given you? If you have no children to inherit your wealth, to whom would you bequeath it?
This is a beautiful story taken from Marian Apparitions and Devotions by Sr. Mary Francis LeBlanc.
The story tells of a devout couple who lived in Rome in the fourth century. The husband’s name was John but history does not give the wife’s name. They were blessed with much wealth but their happiness was not complete. They had no children with whom to share their wealth and faith. They prayed hard for a son or a daughter but heaven seemed deaf to their plea.
Since they were getting old, they decided to make Our Lady their heiress. They prayed ardently to her, begging her to show them how she wanted to use her inheritance. Then on the night of August 4, the Blessed Mother appeared to John and his wife telling them she wanted a basilica built on the Esquiline Hill (one of Rome’s seven hills) on the exact spot that she would designate with snow. Our Lady also appeared to Pope Liberius (the pope during that time) giving him the same information.
The following morning, the 5th of August, people were surprised to see a snowy carpet, the snow crystals sparkling in the sun on the Esquiline. The happy couple rushed to the scene, as did Pope Liberius in solemn procession. History tells us the snow covered the exact space for the basilica. After staking off the site, the snow disappeared.
The construction of the basilica began at once with the Pope giving the first stroke of the pickax in digging the foundation. The basilica, Our Lady’s shrine, was consecrated by Pope Liberius in AD 360.
It is said that the basilica was and still is the largest Roman Church dedicated to Our Lady–because of its great size and unusual splendor, it is named St. Mary Major or Greater (Santa Maria Maggiore). It is also known by other names: Church of St. Mary of the Snow, Liberian Basilica (in memory of Pope Liberius), and Church of St. Mary of the Crib (it is believed that the basilica preserves part to the crib of the Infant Jesus brought to Rome by St. Helena).
This part of the crib is placed in a golden reliquary. Aside from this part of the crib, St. Helena also brought to Rome a beautiful image of Our Lady and the Divine Child supposedly painted by St. Luke on a thick cedar slab five feet high and three and a quarter feet wide. This picture had been placed in the papal chapel for veneration. Later, Pope Liberius thought the image was worthy of the magnificent Basilica of St. Mary Major so he gave it to the shrine. The people of Rome have had a great devotion to Mary. Whenever Rome was in danger from calamities, the image would be carried around in solemn procession. And indeed Our Lady proved herself a powerful protectress. Today the picture is called Our Lady Protectress of Rome, or Help of the Roman People.
Through the centuries, the popes considered it a privilege to beautify Mary’s basilica. The original character of the basilica has been preserved notwithstanding the many improvements added like the beautiful ceiling adorned with the first gold brought from America by Christopher Columbus. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel by Sixtus V is one of the most magnificent in Rome. The Pauline Chapel built by Paul V as throne room of Our Lady has a wealth of precious stones making it the richest in the city. The façade of St. Mary Major is an 18th century addition.
At first, the feast of Our Lady of the Snow was celebrated only at the basilica. Then in the 14th century, it was extended to the whole of Rome. Later in the 17th century, Pius V made it a feast of the universal church. Every year on August 5, the anniversary of the origin of St. Mary Major is celebrated with splendor during the solemn masses. A shower of white rose petals is released from the ceiling symbolizing the miraculous fall of snow that indicated the site and size of the basilica. The shower of petals is also meant to symbolize the graces that the Blessed Mother has bestowed–and continues to bestow–upon her children. On 1 November 1954 Pope Pius XII placed a jeweled crown on the painting of Our Lady, the Protectress of Rome, amidst joyful shouts of “Long live the Queen!” from the people. The pope then named Mary the Queen of Heaven and Earth and, with the encyclical letter Ad Coeli Reginam, declared that the 22nd of August would be her feast day under that title.
The Second Coming of Christ will take place in your lifetime.
According to this book which contains a series of incredible messages and prophecies to an Irish seer, our present generation will witness the Second Coming of Christ.
Click here to read a book review that summarises the key messages of the book.
Get the latest articles straight to your inbox - Free!