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Rome Reports

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The miracle of snow: millions of white petals in St. Mary Major

Like every year "snow" fell in the middle of the Roman summer.

This is the celebration of the "miracle of snow," when millions of white rose petals descend in front of the altar in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

It is a centuries-old tradition that has taken root among the Romans. María has been participating in this celebration for 20 years.

"There are no words to describe the emotion one feels when seeing the petals fall from the sky on the altar. It touches your heart." "The petals fall and look like snowflakes, it's a beautiful thing."

It's a sign of the miracle that led to the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the west. Inside the image of the patroness of Rome, Salus Populi Romani, is protected.

“It means a lot, every year I come with my friend. I always come. I come with my relatives. It touches us spiritually. One has to come and participate in this profound experience and that's why we come.”

According to tradition, on August 5, 358, Pope Liberius and an elderly couple dreamt the Blessed Mother asked them to build a church where she would indicate with snow in the middle of summer.

It happened on Esquiline hill, where the church stands today. It was built in 431 and thousands of people come every day.

"I have come here to St. Mary Major to feel that warmth, that emotion."

“Faith and believing in the Word of God, is something I feel and carry in my heart. It's nice memory of Rome.”

St. Mary Major, is one of the four papal basilicas in Rome. For Pope Francis, it has a special meaning. He prayed in this church the day after his election as pope. He also goes to the icon of the patroness of Rome when leaving or returning from an international trip.