The  Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore  (The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major) is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy. It is known with many names like Our Lady of Snows because according to the legend. "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 honour. On 5th day of  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 which they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honour of Mary on the very spot which was covered with snow."The feast was originally called Dedicatio Sanctae Maria.
Another name is the Liberian Basilica or Santa Maria Liberiana, after Pope Liberius.It  was also called Sancta maria ad Praesepe or  Saint Mary of the Crib  because of its relic of the crib or manger of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
The 14th century campanile, or bell tower, is the highest in Rome, at 240 feet, (about 75 m.). 
Beneath the high altar of the basilica is the Crypt of the Nativity or Bethlehem Crypt, with a crystal reliquary said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ.
The Santa Maria Maggiore is often used by the Pope during  the annual Feast of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated every 15th day of  August each year.
The Basilica's nave is decorated with mosaics on both sides depicting scenes from the Old testament .
The Marian column in front of the Basilica  was built in 1614 and served as model for all Marian columns around the globe.
How to go to the basilica.
1. From the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano you can take Bus# 714 and alight at the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore
2. From Santa Croce in Gerusalemme church you can take Bus#105
3. From the Termini just walk to Piazza Esquilino taking the Via Cavour route or Via D. Manin.

My blogs for the other major basilicas


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