Santa Maria Maggiore Church
What you need to know
One of four Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore was commissioned by Pope Liberius and erected at the site that appeared to him in a vision and where a miraculous snowfall took place in August 356.
Dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows, the so-called “miracle of the snow” is commemorated in style on the 5th of August every year by dropping white rose petals from the dome. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was erected on the orders of Pope Sixtus III (432-440) after the Council of Ephesus in 431 that claimed Mary as the Mother of God.
It is the only Basilica to have retained its primitive early Christian structure, although this was added to in later times. The grand harmonious interior of the Basilica is 86 metres in length and divided into three naves by monolithic columns with ionic capitals directly supporting the trabeation decorated with a frieze of mosaics. Still preserved in the Basilica is the first ever crib made with statues. For this we have to thank Pope Nicholas IV who in 1288 commissioned Arnolfo di Cambio to create a “Nativity” scene. The tradition of this sacred representation dates back to 432 when Pope Sixtus III (432-440) created a “Nativity grotto” in the primitive Basilica.
Santa Maria Maggiore Church at a Glance
When to visit: Everyday
Opening hours:from 7:00am to 7:00pm
Directions:Piazza di Santa María Maggiore.
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