The Feast of Our Lady of the Snows

August 5th marks a Marian feast that very often goes unnoticed: Our Lady of the Snows. Although it is one of Mary’s lesser-known titles, the events that produced it are responsible for the construction of Saint Mary Major and it came from the miraculous summer snow that fell upon Esquiline Hill in the fourth century.

In 352 AD, there lived a Roman patrician named John whose wife was not able to have children. Without having an heir, they vowed to dedicate their wealth and riches to the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, they could not figure out how best to use their money to honor Mary. After consulting Pope Liberius about their difficulties, he encouraged them to pray to Our Lady about it and told them he would do the same. The night of August 4th, Our Lady appeared to the Pope and John and told them to build a basilica in her name on top of Esquiline Hill. When they asked her for a sign that this was truly her direction, she told them that she would let snow mark the location where the church should be built.

That summer night in Rome, snowfall graced the crest of a hill, and on the morning of August 5th, John and his wife made their way to the peak. Upon arriving, they discovered that the snow had landed in the outline of what would become the basilica, Saint Mary Major. Amazed at the miraculous sign, John and his wife funded the basilica’s construction. Now one of the most famous churches in the world, it is the centerpiece for millions of Marian devotees. It has been known as the Liberian Basilica, Saint Mary of the Crib, Our Lady of the Snows, and finally Saint Mary Major, in an effort to distinguish it as the ultimate Marian basilica.

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani

Inside Saint Mary Major, you can find a painting known as Salus Populi Romani (the Protectress of Rome), an image bearing Our Lady holding the Child Jesus. It is believed to have been produced by St. Luke and it is a precious point of devotion to many, including Relevant Radio.

Relevant Radio has been unified with the Church all these years by operating under three simple yet vital principles. Firstly, we remain faithful to the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, always adhering to Church teaching. Secondly, we remain united to the Bishops of the Church, respecting the authority of the ordained and maintaining solidarity with them. And lastly, we are under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just as Salus Populi Romani protected the people of Rome, we should go to Our Lady and ask her for guidance and protection against the struggles and uncertainty that may lie ahead.

Pray with families across the nation and ask for Our Lady’s intercession during the Family Rosary Across America tonight at 7 pm CT – we’ll pray for your intentions together!

Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.

saint mary major
Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani
John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.