Tuesday, August 05, 2008

August 5th in Rome: let it snow!

The liturgical life in Rome is rich with custom and tradition (unlike everywhere else after the sixties). One of the most special days to be in Rome is August 5th. This is the day in which is celebrated the liturgical feast of the "Madonna of the Snow."
And so today the Romans flocked back into the city from the beaches of Ostia for the morning to see the "snow" of the white jasmine and rose petals showering atop the confessio of the Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Mary Major during the choral singing of the Gloria. "Long live Catholic traditions in the face of the devil!" was all I could think of as I stood in awe amid the enchanted faithful in the face of the falling blessed flowers.
It was during the night of the nonae of August, between the fourth and fifth of August in the year 358 when the Virgin Mary appeared both to Giovanni Patricio and Pope Liberius, asking that a basilica be dedicated to her on a site in Rome where, that night, it would snow. The next morning the wealthy senator and the pope went to the Cispian, where that very night a heavy snow had fallen. Here, Pope Liberius watched by a giant crowd, traced the outline of the future church in the heavy snow and thus the basilica and another beautiful addition to our Catholic story.


Anonymous said...

Papal basilica, not patriarchal.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures! Thank you for posting!

PeterHWright said...

Goodness !
Is the tradition of showering petals from the ceiling of St. Mary Major still observed in honour of Our Lady of the Snow ?
I've heard about it, but never seen it.
It sounds like a very good reason to be in Rome in August !
Many thanks for the magnificent photos.

jedesto said...

There are no "Papal" basilicas. The four great churches of Rome (St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul-without-the-Walls) are called patriarchal basilicas, seemingly as representative of the great ecclesiastical provinces of the world thus symbolically united in the heart of Christendom.
St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the pope, the Patriarch of the West.
St. Peter's is assigned to the Patriarch of Constantinople,
St. Paul's to the Patriarch of Alexandria,
St. Mary Major to the Patriarch of Antioch.
St. Lawrence-outside-the-Walls is also reckoned as a greater basilica because it is specially attributed to the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Moreover, a few other churches, notably that of St. Francis at Assisi and that of the Portiuncula, have also received the privilege of ranking as patriarchal basilicas.

[Adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia]

~Joseph the Worker said...

Very Beautiful, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

A note for Jedesto:
HH Pope Benedict XVI, whom God preserve has removed the title 'Patriarch of the West' from his own style and that of further holders of the office. Thus the title is defunct.

Philip said...

I was present at this Mass in 1988 and witnessed this beautiful tradition. By the following year, I had been received into the Catholic Church.

BTW, Jedesto, I've noticed that the commentators on Vatican Radio/TV talk about the "Papal" basilicas now and when the word "Patriarchal" slips out, they correct themselves.

PiusLad said...

A few thoughts on the titles of basilicas.

While it is true that the Holy See has changed the title of the four major basilicas from 'patriarchal' to 'papal', it is not incorrect to continue to refer to them as Patriarchal Basilicas in view of their traditional associations.

With regard to the Holy Father's title of Patriarch of the West: As far as I know, the Pope has NOT formally renounced the title; rather, the expression was omitted from the list of titles in the Annuario Pontificio. It seems to be a bit of a stretch to claim that he has precluded his successors from the use of that title, or that it is now defunct. [Having said that, I am certainly open to correction if there is some documentation to the contrary.]

Anonymous said...

excellent photos dude.. thnk for the informative post ..