“During the pontificate of Liberius, the Roman patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honor. On 5 August, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision of the Virgin Mary that they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honor of Mary on the very spot that was covered with snow. From the fact that no mention whatever is made of this alleged miracle until a few hundred years later, not even by Sixtus III in his eight-line dedicatory inscription … it would seem that the legend has no historical basis.” Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Pope Liberius reigned from 352 to 356. It is understandable that the Catholic Encyclopedia prefers to regard this miracle as a pious legend. And yet, because so many things happened in Rome in those dangerous years, I am inclined to believe that perhaps the miracle did not make it into the Acts of the Roman See because there were more important things to do, like defend Rome from the barbarians coming from the north, and the pestilence that regularly affected European cities about those times, etc. Personally, I do not think this miracle is a false memory but that is my personal opinion. The snow that fell on the Esquiline Hill reminds us of Mary’s cool and refreshing purity, coming into the world at a time when men were living through a violent and impure season of history.
I am also going to believe my good friend Giorgio Sernani (1929-2014) who told me once: “I am certain that the Blessed Mother was born on August 5!” Since he was one of the greatest scholars who studied the life of the Virgin Mary … who am I to say otherwise?”
So, this post is a modest gift presented to Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Snows honored at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
My father told me and he also told my sister once, that an image of Our Lady of the Snows appeared to float on the slope of a mountain visible to the whole little town (population 5,000? at the time) on May 31, 1957 the day my sister Maria was born. I believe my father because he cannot be accused of being interested in Catholic miracle peddling. He was a Jehovah’s Witness for most of his adult life.
At the time of being received in the Church (2001) I was somewhat indifferent to St. Mary. That changed very fast. She made her presence felt again and again through many graces, including two of the books I wrote about her: Ark of Grace. Our Blessed Mother in Holy Scripture, and Guadalupe. A River of Light.
In 2010, when I was living in the US and I did not even dream of coming back to Buenos Aires, she showed me the parish I was going to attend. At the time I did not understand, it was June 16 and a barrage of graces fell upon me that day. It was glorious.
Ever since those days, I noticed small and sometimes big graces visiting me on feasts of the Virgin Mary. I could make a list several pages long but I will spare you the reading. I wonder what is going to happen today but I wait confident of her generosity. Because Our Lady is a generous benefactor, having delivered into the world the greatest gift of all times: her Son, Our Lord.
Our Queen and Mother, accept our praise and love in your day, for we owe you the gift of life. Help us fight for life, preserve us through the dark days we are living, guide the pastors of the Church, and most specially guide and illuminate the Holy Father in Rome, and our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. They need your light, we need your light. Do not tarry to help us.
Most holy and Immaculate Virgin, Help of Christians, we place ourselves under your motherly protection. Throughout the Church’s history you have helped Christians in times of trial, temptation and danger. Time and time again, you have proven to be the Refuge of sinners, the Hope of the hopeless, the Consoler of the afflicted, and the Comforter of the dying. We promise to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, your Son, to proclaim His Good News of God’s love for all people, and to work for peace and justice in our world. With faith in your intercession, we pray for the Church, for our family and friends, for the poor and abandoned, and all the dying. Grant, O Mary, Help of Christians, the graces of which we stand in need. (Mention your intentions.) May we serve Jesus with fidelity and love until death. Help us and our loved ones to attain the boundless joy of being forever with our Father in heaven. Amen.
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us! Amen