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Summer Snow

Rome: Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore
Sara Tomassini / Storyteller

Rome: Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore

Snow in Rome is a rare sight that happens about every 20 years. But, once it snowed in the middle of summer!

Summer Snow - https://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/31900379285

"I saw the snow! I saw the snow! Tonight it was so hot and I could not get any sleep!"

"I went out to breathe some fresh air and I saw a frozen miracle!” said one of the servants to his owner, the patrician Giovanni.

In the middle of summer, on the night of August 4th to 5th of the year 358 AD, on the top of Esquiline Hill (one the Rome’s seven hills) there was a miraculous snowfall! During that same night the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to pope Liberius and at the same time to the patrician Giovanni, telling them both to build a church in her honor where they find the snow.

As the medieval mosaic on the facade shows, this miracle was the reason for the foundation of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of St. Mary Major), one of the oldest and most wonderful churches in town, celebrating Mary as Mother of God. Every year on the special night this miracle is repeated in the square in front of the basilica with a celebration and a music and light show. We suggest taking part in this religious feast and cultural event, still very strongly loved by Romans.

About the Author

Sara is an educator and art historian with a passion for the arts and sharing the wonders of her hometown with visitors from around the globe. With a storytelling approach to her tours, she loves questions and dialogue with her guests- young and old.

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Other articles from Sara