During the reign of Pope Liberius (352-366) an
aristocratic couple, John and his wife were childless. With no heirs, they made a vow to donate
all their possessions to Our Lady. They prayed that she might make known to them how they
were to dispose of their property in her honor. On August 5, during the hot summer evening,
amiraculous snowfall traced the form of a basilica on the hill. Our Lady also appeared to Pope
Liberius in a dream that same night so that he, too, could arrive at the location to see the
miraculous snowfall. Many people gathered to see the unusual event of snow glistening in the
August sun. Upon awakening, John and his wife rushed to the site; and Pope Liberius arrived
in solemn procession.
Realizing that the snow marked the exact location of the church, the people staked off the area
before the snow melted. The basilica was completed within two years and consecrated by Pope
Pope Sixtus III (432-440) rebuilt and embellished the basilica. From the seventh century onward,
it has been referred tio as St. Mary the Great or St. Mary Major. The Basilica has also been called
Our Lady Of the Snows in commemoration of the miraculous snowfall.
The statue of Our Lady of the Snows has been the most recently added statue in the shrine. It
was purchased and added to the Shrine area by the St. Therese Circle of the Rosary/Alter Society.
Some years ago, Abby Stevens had provided the parish with a statue of Our Lady of the Snows,
but due to weathering, it needed to be replaced.