Roman Catholics commemorate Thursday, August 5, the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore) in Rome, Italy, one of the four major Roman basilicas, and the most important church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Triduum masses are traditionally held in Rome in observance of the feast, followed by a two-day celebration that culminates with a Pontifical Mass. Marian devotees traditionally drop white rose petals from the dome after the feast mass in commemoration of a miracle attributed to the Blessed Mother many years ago.
Also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows, the basilica is the largest Marian church in Rome.
According to stories, the Blessed Mother, in an apparition in the year 352, requested for a church to be dedicated in her honor on the spot to be indicated by a miraculous fall of snow on a hot summer night. Pope Liberius built a church on the site of the snow fall in the Esquiline Hill, which was later enlarged and consecrated by Pope Sixtus III in 435.
The Holy Father Pope Francis is known to drop by the basilica to offer his thanksgiving after every foreign trip.
In the country, special masses will be celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan, and at the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay in Taal, Batangas, both of which had been declared as affiliate churches of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. A plenary indulgence will be granted to pilgrims to these churches as if they have actually visited the Roman basilica in Italy.
Feast masses will also be celebrated in Dumarao, Capiz; Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte; and in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental.
The Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a popular pilgrimage site today, contains the relic of the crib of Bethlehem, in which Jesus was believed to have been laid at His birth.