The Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, located on the top of the Esquiline Hill, is one of the four papal basilicas of Rome. It is also known as “Liberiana” from the legend that traditionally connects it to Pope Liberius and according to which, in 352 AD, the pope dreamed of the Madonna telling him to build a church where he found snow. When it snowed on the Esquiline one morning in August, in the midst of a torrid Roman summer, the Pope built the church called “Santa Maria della Neve”. The miracle of the snow is remembered every year, on 5th of August, in a function during which white petals are dropped from the ceiling of the Pauline Chapel.
Santa Maria Maggiore was built right on the small church of Santa Maria della Neve or on its legend as no material ruins have been found, but only some testimonies. It is the only one to have preserved the original early Christian structure, preserves the wonderful mosaics of the V in the central nave and the XIII century in the apse and a coffered ceiling that leaves you breathless. It was decorated with the first load of gold from the new lands discovered in America given to Pope Alexander VI by the Spanish crown. In short, although not always chosen as a privileged tourist destination, it is a must!
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