Pope Francis: On the first morning of his pontificate, Pope Francis went to
pray by the icon of the Madonna known as the 'Salus Populi Romani' [the
salvation of the Roman people].
The icon is situated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a popular
Marian shrine in the heart of Rome.
The icon is known as 'Our Lady of the Snows' because of its connection
to the legend of a miraculous fall of snow on 5th August in the year 358
during a sweltering Roman summer.
Although we had our fair share of snow in March already, what links the
Holy Father's visit to Saint Mary Major and our own area is that our
local Dulwich Picture Gallery
currently has an exhibition of some of the finest works of the Spanish
Baroque painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo,
including his depiction of the story of the miracle of the Virgin of the
Snows and the founding of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore).
This work, and others, was commissioned by Murillo's friend, Don Justino
de Neve, canon of Seville Cathedral.
De Neve had a great devotion to 'Our Lady of the Snows', as this was the
title of his family's parish church, with the family name itself
bearing links to the Latin word for snow.
The miraculous snow that fell in the middle of a Roman heat wave is
still marked each year with a celebration of prayer in Santa Maria
Maggiore and a symbolic cascade of white petals from above.
Through the foundations in prayer that Pope Francis has made in his
pontificate already may we be assured of a cascade of blessings from
above, knowing that, even in the heat of things, the Lord can shower us
with his loving care.
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With the Apostolic Letter of 11 October 2011, Porta fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith. The year runs from 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, until 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.
As well as celebrating the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Year of Faith marks the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, given to the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II on 11 October 1992.
For more information on the Year of Faith please click on this link for the official Year of Faith website:
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