Friday, August 04, 2006

Summer Snow

For those of you keeping an eye on things, Cardinal Law's getting snowed on again tomorrow.

And this time, the Globe has nothing to do with it.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Dedication of St Mary Major, and to commemorate the miraculous occurrence snow petals are dropped from the ceiling of the Liberian Basilica at a liturgy celebrated by the Archpriest.

Here's the story:

The beginnings of St. Mary Major date to the Constantinian period. Originally it was called the Sicinini Basilica; it was the palace of a patrician family by that name before its transformation into a church by Pope Liberius. The story of its origin is legendary, dating from the Middle Ages. The Breviary gives this version: "Liberius was on the chair of Peter (352-366) when the Roman patrician John and his wife, who was of like nobility, vowed to bequeath their estate to the most holy Virgin and Mother of God, for they had no children to whom their property could go. The couple gave themselves to assiduous prayer, beseeching Mary to make known to them in some way what pious work they should subsidize in her honor.

"Mary answered their petition and confirmed her reply by means of the following miracle. On the fifth of August — a time when it is unbearably hot in the city of Rome — a portion of the Esquiline would be covered with snow during the night. During that same night the Mother of God directed John and his wife in separate dreams to build a church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the site where they would see snow lying. For it was in this manner that she wanted her inheritance to be used.

"John immediately reported the whole matter to Pope Liberius, and he declared that a similar dream had come to him. Accompanied by clergy and people, Liberius proceeded on the following morning in solemn procession to the snow-covered hill and there marked off the area on which the church in Mary's honor was to be constructed."

If anyone's going, stay warm. And, by the by, I'm still waiting for a photo of Macca in his new get-up.

Alessia Giuliani/Catholic Press Photo