Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Discover Truths In Sacred Places

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, August 5, 2017

Exploring architecture is a great way to grow in your understanding of Catholicism. Not only are there different styles of Catholic church buildings but there are also different classifications. The type of structure you may know best is the parish church, but there are also oratories, crypts, cathedrals, and basilicas. Each has its own particular characteristics. A basilica, for example, signifies a church that has a place of honor because of its historical and religious importance. Look up a church like the Basilica of Mary Major and see what light it can shed on your Catholic faith. 

Typically the Church’s Liturgical Calendar calls for the celebration of a holy person, but today we celebrate the dedication of a holy place, St. Mary Major, one of Rome’s four principle basilicas. The others are St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, and St. Paul outside the Walls. The present church of St. Mary Major was built in the fifth century, not long after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as “Mother of God.” The basilica is the largest and oldest church in the world honoring God through Mary. It stands atop one of Rome’s seven hills, and despite many restorations, still has the character of an early Roman basilica. 

For four hundred years today’s feast was called “Our Lady of the Snows”. According to legend, the basilica was constructed on the site where the Mother of God produced a miraculous mid-summer snow fall and left her footprints as a sign. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the dome of the basilica every August 5. 

Below the Basilica’s main altar are relics from the manger of Bethlehem, in which Mary laid the newborn Savior of the World. 

The morning after his Papal election, Pope Francis went to pray at Saint Mary Major, and after returning safely from World Youth Day, he went again to Mary Major, to offer thanksgiving to Mary for that her protection and care for all of those pilgrims. 

At another visit to Mary Major, Pope Francis, after praying the rosary, said the following: “A mother helps her children to grow and wants them to grow well; for this she educates them not to fall into laziness – which derives from a certain well-being – not to settle into a comfortable life that contents itself only with having things. The mother cares for the children so that they grow more, they grow strong, able to take responsibility, to commit themselves in life, to pursue grand ideals. In the Gospel St. Luke tells us that, in the family of Nazareth, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Our Lady does the same thing in us, she helps us to grow as human beings and in the faith, to be strong and not to give in to the temptation to be human and Christian in a superficial way, but to live with responsibility, to aim ever higher.”

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