The construction of the majestic Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is traditionally connected to a legend: it is said that the Madonna appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius in AD 358 asking him to build a church dedicated to her. The next morning, on 5 August, a huge snowfall whitened the place where now stands the Basilica.
In reality, the most important of the Roman churches dedicated to Our Lady, which stands on the top of the hill called Colle Esquilino, was founded later, between 432 and 440 after the Council of Ephesus, which sanctioned the dogma of the divine motherhood of Mary. The legend has remained so much alive throughout the centuries and in the heart of the Romans so that it has become celebrated again, with much enthusiasm and participation, and this every year on 5 August: the square in front of the Basilica becomes, from around 9 p.m., the fabulous scenario of the “miracle of snow”, which artificially and extraordinarily falling from the warm and summer sky full of stars, donating the public one of the most famous shows in the world, accompanied by sounds and lights of great theatrical effect.
BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE. Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore. For information: Tel. 0669886802. Opening hours: every day 7 a.m.-6.45 p.m. Admission: complete museum €3, reduced €2; Loggia delle Benedizioni + Sala dei Papi + Scala del Bernini € 5; Archaeological excavations with guided tour €5, reduced €4; visit to the Basilica with guide €5 every last Saturday of the month leaving at 3, 4 and at 5 p.m.