The Basilica of St. Mary Major, or Di Santa Maria Maggiore, is one of the four major Basilicas of Rome. This is one of the oldest and most important shrines in the world dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Built in 432, this Basilica was one of the first known Churches to honor the Virgin Mary and is the largest Catholic Marian Church in Rome. The Baroque-style Basilica is filled with rich mosaics and beautiful frescoes and is also the burial site of several Popes. The alter is home to a relic from the Manger of Infant Jesus, called the Crypt of the Nativity which contains wood that was once a part of the Holy Crib.
The Church that was originally on this site was built in response to a request from the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the night of August 4, 358 the Virgin appeared to Pope Liberius (352-366) and the Roman patrician Giovanni in their dreams requesting a church to be built in her honor. She said that a miraculous snowfall would come down and outline the place where the church was to be constructed. The next day, in the middle of a summer heat wave, snow fell on the Esquiline Hill. In response, Pope Liberious immediately commissioned the Church to be built, and although nothing remains today of the original Basilica, the event gave the Blessed Virgin one of her most ancient titles, Our Lady of the Snows.
When to visit: Open to the public from 7 AM – 6:45 PM daily.
Accommodations: There are hundreds of 4 and 5 star hotels in central Rome.