Mary, the mother of Jesus, has a long history of apparitions and visitations. In many of these events, Mary has showed an awesome range of miraculous power; the most famous of which is her healing power. One of the first manifestations of her power is when she showed herself as “the Lady of the Snows”. This is a wondrous display of the power which has been given to her by her son, Jesus, and the Father. However, this miracle is often overlooked or misunderstood by many Catholics. Her account is succinctly written by James Fitzhenry, in “Roman Catholic Saints”. He writes;
“There lived in the Eternal City, Rome, a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.
In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, 352, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, Pope Liberius, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. They asked, what would be the sign that they might know what to do?
“Snow will cover the crest of the hill”, was the answer.
Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to throng up the hill and behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.
The church built there is now known as Saint Mary Major. It is the focal point of devotion for many of Mary’s millions of children, one of the most popular churches in the world. There Mary has been pleased to secure various and many blessings as numerous and varied, as the flakes of snow that fell that August night.
The church built by John and his wife in honor of Our Lady of the Snows, restored and enlarged at various times was known by different names: the Basilica of Liberius, Saint Mary of the Crib because it enshrines relics of Christ’s Crib; lastly, Saint Mary Major, to distinguish it from the many other Roman churches dedicated to the Mother of God; Major, means Greater. There is an image revered as Our Lady of the Snows, which is believed to have been produced by St. Luke the Apostle”.
Therefore, the Lady of the Snows should not be relegated to the snowy climes of the world, as is done by many. A personal account from me seems appropriate. I had known the name “Lady of the Snows” for many years, as the image is rich in Biblical and Christian traditions. The Oblate Missions are wonderful ambassadors for Our Lady. However, recently, Our Lady of the Snows made herself a force in my life. I am nearing the end of recovering from a near-fatal case of Sepsis. Many procedures in this recovery process were very painful. One day, during a particularly painful session, the image of the Lady of the Snows came to mind. I prayed for Mary, with her command of the cold snow, to numb the area which was in such pain. The PAIN IMMEDIATELY CEASED. Some might say it was psychosomatic or a spiritual placebo; I believe that they would be wrong. The concurrent image, prayer, and cessation of pain can not be, logically, attributed to coincidence. This a unique moment of blessing from Our Mother. Ave Maria!