The meaning of the celebration
+ According to legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary designated the place in Rome where a church was to be built in her honor by a miraculous fall of snow on August 4 and 5, 352.
+ The basilica was built and dedicated to the Mother of God was completed during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus III in the middle of the fifth century. This Church came to be known as Saint Mary “Major” and it is the oldest church in the West dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the four “patriarchal basilicas” of the city of Rome.
+ Originally this feast was a local celebration, limited the city of Rome, but it was extended to the Universal Church in 1586.
+ Although scholars and historians agree that the story of “Our Lady of the Snows” is a pious legend, the devotion has endured for a millennium. As a testament to this, The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate sponsor a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. The shrine has hosted millions of visitors over the decades and is the largest outdoor shrine in the United States.
For prayer and reflection
“Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom who place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”—Saint Cyril of Alexandria
On this day we also remember Saint Nonna. She married—and converted—Saint Gregory of Nazianzen “the Elder” to the Christian Faith. These two saints were the parents of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Saint Caesarius of Nazianzen, and Saint Gorgonia. Saint Nonna died in 374.
pardon the sins of your people.
May the prayers of the Mary, the Mother of your Son,
help to save us,
for by ourselves we cannot please you.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.