Pictorial Lives of the Saints – The Dedication of Saint Mary ad Nives

Pictorial Lives of the Saints illustration for The Dedication of Saint Mary ad NivesArticle

There are in Rome three patriarchal churches, in which the Pope officiates on different festivals. These are the Basilics of Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s on the Vatican Hill, and Saint Mary Major. This last is so called because it is, both in antiquity and dignity, the first church in Rome among those that are dedicated to God in honor of the Virgin Mary. The name of the Liberian Basilic was given it because it was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated, under the title of the Virgin Mary, by Sixtus III, about the year 435. It is also called Saint Mary ad Nives, or at the snows, from a popular tradition that the Mother of God chose this place for a church under her invoAugust cation by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer, and by a vision in which she appeared to a patrician named John, who munificently founded and endowed this church in the pontificate of Liberius. The same Basilic has sometimes been known by the name of Saint Mary ad Prcesepe, from the holy crib or manger of Bethlehem, in which Christ was laid at His birth. It resembles an ordinary manger, is kept in a case of massive silver, and in it lies an image of a little child, also of silver. On Christmas Day the holy manger is taken out of the case and exposed. It is kept in a sumptuous subterraneous chapel in this church.

Reflection – To render our supplications the more efficacious, we ought to unite them in spirit to those of all ferent penitents and devout souls, in invoking this advocate for sinners.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “The Dedication of Saint Mary ad Nives”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 7 May 2021. <>