Throughout history, many Popes have shown a special devotion to Our Lady. Pope Francis is definitely among them. The Basilica of St. Mary Major was the first site he visited the day after his election. During Sundays Angleus, the Pope once again talked about the Virgin Mary, the patroness of Rome.
"On Monday, we Romans remember our Mother, "Salus Populi Romani.” Let us pray that she may protect us. May all of us together, greet our Mother with a ‘Hail Mary’ . . . A greeting for our Mother, all together, let's give a greeting for our Mother.”
Each year, on August 5, Romans celebrate the feast day of their beloved patroness. Her iconic figure is found inside the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
According to tradition, back in the 4th century, Our Lady appeared before a wealthy couple and before Pope Liberius. She asked them to build a Basilica in her honor. The next day, on August 5, they discovered where to build it, when it snowed on Esquiline Hill.
As the story goes, St. Luke painted the Byzantine icon representing the patroness of the Roman people, in the wooden slab used during the Last Supper.