The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) is one the four Papal Basilicas of Rome Located on the Esquiline Hill, it is the only church which maintained its original early Christian structure.
DID YOU KNOW...?
The Basilica is also known as Santa Maria of the snow was founded by Pope Liberius between 432 and 440 A.D.
According to the tradition the Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberius to tell him that the place where sanctuary was to be built would be shown by a miracle.
On the morning of the 5th of August it unusually snowed on the Esquiline Hill, so Pope Liberius hurried there to trace the perimeter of the church on the snow. This event is still remembered today every 5th August by means of fake snow consisting of white petals falling from the ceiling of the Basilica.
One of the best preserved works in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the mosaic dating back to the V century which depicts events from the Old and the New Testament. It still shows the typical features of the Late Antiquity: the volume and space effects are obtained by means of hues and shadows. The mosaics in the front arch depicting scenes of Christ’s childhood from the Apocrypha are in the Byzantine style.
The mosaic depicting the coronation of Mary is by Jacopo Torriti and dates back to Nicholas IV's pontificate, like the facade mosaics by Filippo Rusuti. The fleche was added during the Middle Ages.
Among the works added over the centuries the Sforza Chapel designed by Michelangelo stands out. The main facade featuring a colonnade and a loggia was built by Ferdinando Fuga between 1741 and 1743.