The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore has dominated the city of Rome for sixteen centuries: Marian temple par excellence and cradle of artistic civilization. Located on the top of the Esquiline Hill, it is one of the four Papal Basilicas of Rome. According to tradition, the Virgin indicated and inspired the construction of her home on the Esquiline. Appearing in a dream to the patrician John and Pope Liberius, he asked for the construction of a church in his honor, in a place that it would miraculously indicate. On August 5th of each year, the Miracle of the Snowfall is commemorated through a solemn celebration. During the liturgy a cascade of white petals descends from the ceiling creating almost an ideal union between the assembly and the Mother of God.
The Basilica houses the most important Marian icon, the Salus Populi Romani . Tradition attributes the image to Saint Luke, Evangelist and patron of painters. Pope Francis places his apostolic journeys under the protection of the Salus , which he usually visits before departure and after his return.
The relic of the Sacred Cradle , the manger in which the baby Jesus was laid, recalls the importance of Santa Maria Maggiore as the "Bethlehem of the West". Mass was celebrated here for the first time on Christmas Eve and for centuries the Pontiffs went to the Basilica maintaining this custom.
Among the most important relics, the Basilica houses the remains of San Mattia and San Girolamo.
Seven Popes are buried in the Basilica.
The numerous treasures it contains make Santa Maria Maggiore a place where art and spirituality come together in a perfect union, offering visitors those unique emotions typical of the great works of man inspired by God.