Our Lady of the Snows: Missa “Salve, sancta parens”
On August 5 the anniversary of the miraculous snow fall, the Feast of Our Lady of Snows is celebrated at the basilica of her name, St Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. During this celebration hundreds of white blossoms are showered from the dome of the chapel, white petals are scattered throughout the place.
Tradition tells us that during the pontificate of Pope Liberius, in the Fourth Century, in the heat of August, the plan of the church of St. Mary Major was traced out in a miraculous fall of snow. For this reason that basilica is known as St. Mary-of-the-Snow, and the name is also given to the feast of its dedication. The stations at Christmas are held in this Church because some relics of the Crib of Bethlehem are preserved there. The altar of Our Lady’s Basilica contains the relics of the manger crib of Our Divine Lord, which St. Helena brought back from Jerusalem with the True Cross. The image honoured as Our Lady of the Snows is a venerable painting of the Madonna and Child in Greek style, attributed to the physician-Evangelist, St. Luke. Relics of many apostles and saints, as well as the body of St. Matthew and the head of St. Luke rest in this favoured sanctuary. The Pope was also accustomed to officiate there on the first Sunday in Advent, at the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.
The Chapel of the Virgin Salus Populi Romani [Protectress of the Roman People] is very close to the historic heart of the Catholic Church, so it is not surprising that many stories have enriched its tradition over the centuries. It is said that once when Pope Gregory the Great was celebrating Mass in the chapel and intoning the words “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum,” he heard a choir of Angels sing the response “Et cum spiritu tuo.” From that day the custom in the chapel was to omit that section of the Mass in the belief that it was being offered and sung by the Angels.
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Hail, holy Mother, thou who didst bring forth the King who rules heaven and earth for ever and ever. (Ps. 44: 2) My heart hath uttered a good word : I speak my works to the King. v. Glory be…etc
Grant us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, to enjoy perpetual health of mind and body; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, to be delivered from present sorrows and to enjoy everlasting gladness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Eccles. 24. 14-16
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him. And so I was established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, ad my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary, who without spot wast found the Mother of the Saviour. V. O Virgin Mother of God, He, Whom the whole world can not contain, hath shut Himself within thy womb, becoming man. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Happy art thou, O sacred Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, for out of thee hath risen the sun of justice, Christ, our God. Alleluia.
GOSPEL John 19: 25-27
At that time, there stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His Mother:”Woman, behold thy son.” After that He saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own.
Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things; Thou broughtest forth Him Who made thee, yet for ever remainest a virgin, alleluia.
Through Thy mercy, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this oblation give us prosperity and peace both now and forever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, in the Festivity of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father.
Having received, O Lord, these helps to our salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be ever protected by the patronage of blessed Mary ever Virgin, in whose honor we have made these offerings to Thy majesty. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.