August 5, 2017: DEDICATION OF OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS
August 5, 2017: DEDICATION OF OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS
Rank: Greater Double.
“A sucker of Jesse hath budded: a Virgin hath brought forth him, who is God and Man: God hath restored peace: by reconciling in his person the highest things with the lowest.”
Grant, O Lord God, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy a constant health of body and mind, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all temporal afflictions and come to those joys that are eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
History of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
There are, in Rome, three patriarchal churches in which the pope officiates on different festivals, and at one of which he always resides when in the city. These are the Basilics of St. John Lateran, St. Peter's on the Vatican hill, and St. Mary Major. This last is so called, because it is, both in antiquity and dignity, the first church in Rome among those that are dedicated to God in honour of the Virgin Mary. The name of the Liberian Basilic was given it, because it was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated under the title of the Virgin Mary, by Sixtus III, about the year 435. It is also called St. Mary ad Nives, or at the snow, from a popular tradition, that the Mother of God chose this place for a church under her invocation by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer, and by a vision in which she appeared to a patrician, named John, who munificently founded and endowed this church in the pontificate of Liberius. The same Basilic has sometimes been known by the name of St. Mary ad Præsepe, from the holy crib, or manger, of Bethlehem, in which Christ was laid at his birth. It resembles an ordinary manger, is kept in a case of massy silver, and in it lies an image of a little child, also of silver. On Christmas-day the holy manger is taken out of the case and exposed. It is kept in a sumptuous subterraneous chapel in this church. It is well known how much this holy relic excited the devotion of St. Jerom, St. Paula, and others, when it remained yet at Bethlehem.
This church is, at least next to Loretto, the most famous place in the whole world for the devotion of the faithful to the Mother of God. They here assemble with great fervour from many parts of Christendom, to unite their suffrages together in praising God for the mercies he has shown to this holy Virgin, and through her to the whole world; and in imploring her patronage and intercession. Supplications which are public and general are most honourable to God and powerful in obtaining his mercy. To say nothing of the precious relics of many saints which are there deposited, and the many great graces which, by the joint prayers of the faithful, have been there obtained for the whole church; this circumstance alone suffices particularly to recommend the sanctity of this, and other such venerable churches, beyond all that could set off the temple of Solomon in the Jewish law.
The church, which is always solicitous, by the mouths of her pastors (*caution: presently under the enemy V2 sect control), to instruct her children in the most powerful means of attaining to salvation, never ceases, from the primitive ages, strongly to excite them to make their most fervent assiduous addresses to the Mother of God, as a most efficacious means of working their sanctification. She teaches us earnestly to conjure Him who is the author of our being and of our salvation, to listen to her prayers for us; and humbly to remind Him that through her he bestowed himself upon us, and that for love of us he vouchsafed to be born of her, she always remaining a spot less virgin, &c. She excites us to call her “the mother of grace and pity,” and to place a confidence in her mediation, that by it we shall more easily obtain from her Son, and through his merits, all graces. That Christian neglects a great means of succour who does not every day most earnestly recommend himself, and his particular difficulties and necessities in his main concern, to her intercession. To render our supplications the more efficacious, we ought to unite them in spirit to those of all fervent penitents and devout souls in invoking this advocate for sinners. We ought to be ashamed not to appear among the foremost and the most ardent in our addresses, in proportion to our extreme necessities, and particular obligations.
The breviary of St. Pius V promulgated to the entire world the Office, of which the following is the legend:
Under the Pontificate of Liberius, John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, who was of an equally noble race, having no children to whom they might leave their estates, vowed their whole fortune to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, begging her most earnestly and continually to make known to them by some means in what pious work she wished them to employ the money. The Blessed Virgin Mary graciously heard their heartfelt prayers and vows, and answered them by a miracle.
On the Nones of August, usually the hottest time of the year in Rome, a part of the Esquiline hill was covered with snow during the night. That same night the Mother of God appeared in a dream to John and his wife separately, and told them to build a church on the spot they should find covered with snow, and to dedicate it to the Virgin Mary; for it was in this manner that she wished to become their heiress. John related this to Pope Liberius, who said he had dreamt the same thing.
He went, therefore, with a solemn procession of priests and people to the snow-clad hill, and chose the site of a church, which was built with the money of John and his wife. It was afterwards rebuilt by Sixtus III. At first it was called by different names, the Liberian basilica, St. Mary at the Crib. But, since there are many churches in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, as this one surpasses all other basilicas in dignity, and by its miraculous beginning, it is distinguished from them also by its title of St. Mary Major. On account of the miraculous fall of snow, the anniversary of the dedication is celebrated by a yearly solemnity.
Taken from: The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806;
The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. IV, Dublin, Edition 1901; and
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.