Thursday, August 5, 2010

Feast Day-Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major

Today is the Feast day of the Basilica of Mary Major.

The Basilica of Mary Major is one of the 7 founding churches in Rome

According to the tradition, circa 360 Pope Liberius commissioned the construction of the Liberian Basilica on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. According to the founding legend, which cannot be traced further back than the thirteenth century,the pope wanted a shrine built at the site where an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in identical dreams shared by a local patrician Giovanni Patrizio and his wife and by the pope. According to tradition, the outline of the church was physically laid out on the ground of the nobleman's property by Liberius himself under a miraculous, but predicted, snowfall that took place on the night of 4–5 August 352 (or 358)

Archaeological evidence, on the other hand, indicates that the church was probably first built in the early 400s and completed under Pope Sixtus III (432–440). During this period churches dedicated to Mary were beginning to spring up all over the Roman Empire, owing to the increasing popular devotion to the Virgin and the official acceptance of her title "Theotokos" (Mother of God) at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

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