Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 15 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. César de Bus
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

A promise kept: Virtually visit the mosaics of Santa Maria Maggiore

Stefano_Valeri | Shutterstock

Marinella Bandini - published on 03/31/21

Station Church Day 42: Our own part of the story of God's fidelity is here.

Aleteia invites you to a virtual Lenten pilgrimage through Rome’s 42 station churches: one church per day, from February 17 to April 11.

Day 42

On Wednesday of Holy Week, the Lenten station church is back to St. Mary Major. The 5th-century mosaics along the nave speak of God’s promise to the Jewish people and his fidelity in making it come true. They’re the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Joshua.

We, too, fit into this journey. Before us is Mary. The mosaics of the triumphal arch and the apse show us the main moments of her earthly life and her glory beside her Son, in which we too are invited to participate.

Another mosaic, today hidden by the Loggia of Blessings, recounts the foundation of the basilica. According to tradition, on the night between August 4 and 5, 352, Our Lady appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius and a patrician named John, asking them to build a church in her honor at a place that she’d indicate by a miracle. The next morning, a snowfall covered the Esquiline Hill. Here the pope drew the perimeter of the new church, and John provided for its financing. On the site of the original church—of which nothing remains—Pope Sixtus III built the present basilica (5th century).

Every year, in remembrance of the miracle, the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows is celebrated on August 5, with a shower of white rose petals falling from the interior of the basilica’s dome.


Read more:
How a snowy day in August led to one of the world’s most ancient spots to venerate Mary

Let the oppressed see it and be glad;you who seek God, let your hearts revive.For the Lord hears the needy,and does not despise his own that are in bonds.Psalm 69

* In collaboration with the Social Communications Office of the Vicariate of Rome.

Read about the tradition of the station churches here. And see previous churches in the pilgrimage here.

Station ChurchesVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.