August 5, 2015 Wednesday: Dedication of St. Mary Major
The Church celebrates today the dedication of one of Rome’s major basilicas, St. Mary Major. A legend says that a wealthy Roman and his wife, who were childless, made a vow that at death they would leave their possessions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They prayed that she would show them how to do this. On the night of August 5th, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, where the Basilica of St. Mary Major now stands. And in the same night the couple had a vision telling them to build a church there. Though long recognized as without historical foundation, the legend explains why the church is also known as “Our Lady of the Snows.” It is also called “St. Mary of the Manger,” because of the relic of the manger in which Mary placed her baby after his birth.
Perhaps by default when we think of Mary, we think of Bethlehem. We Catholics are also reared to reflect often on Mary at the foot of the Cross with the Beloved Disciple. But we ought not overlook the many ordinary days over more than thirty years that she served Jesus as His first and best disciple. We tend to think of St. Thérèse as the origin of the Little Way, but she surely learned it through her devotion to Our Lady.
Mary’s love for Jesus was no less strong as she bathed her infant, or fed her child, than it was during Holy Week: less intense, perhaps, but no less dedicated. In this she’s an example for us who tend to lead very ordinary lives. In ordinary moments, we can choose to love with extraordinary love: the love through which Mary served Jesus as His model disciple.