Basilica of
Saint Mary Major
Holy Day Mass

Immaculate Conception


The Basilica
of Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica of Saint Mary Major is one of the most ancient churches in all of Rome. It dates back to at least 431 A.D. under Pope Sixtus III who built a church on this site to celebrate the fact that the Efeso Council conferred upon the Blessed Virgin the title of Mother of God. There is even some evidence that its planning may date as early as 352 A.D. when the Our Mother appeared to Pope Liberius and invited him to build the church.


The bell-tower was added in the 14th century. The Corinthian column out front was added by Paul VI when it was moved here from the Constantine Basilica.


Left - The main/center nave. Gold coffered ceiling added in the 15th century.
Right - the altar canopy by Ferdinando Fuga added in the 18th century.


Left photo and left of the main altar is the Pauline Chapel. Father Matt assisted the Italian priests for our holy day mass in this chapel. It provided all of us with a reminder that in any language, we are always "at home" with "The Mass".

Right photo and right of the main altar is the Chapel of the Holiest Sacrament.


While we were in the basilica, workmen were setting up scaffolding at the back of the main nave for what we learned would be a very big Christmas Concert that would be televised/taped in the next few days. We later learned that the concert was by Andrea Bocelli, the great blind tenor. When we got home, we were all thrilled to get to see the concert on television. It was just one more in a long list of events that made Christmas 1999, the new millenium, and the beginning of the Jubilee Year so very special to each of us that had made this pilgrimage.


God Working in Our Lives

Even though I completed 90% of this website about our trip in December of 1999, I postponed my work on these last few pages from Rome. I never really knew why.

Then one morning, almost two years after our trip, Claudia and I were driving down US-169 on our way to mass when she mentioned the event shown in the photo on the left. As we were leaving Saint Mary Major, the high mass for the holy day was just beginning. The procession shown included a number of Bishops, and a Cardinal. As I watched the procession, my wife was watching me. My love for the solemnity of the event and the obvious spiritual impact it was having on my faith welled up in her soul. It helped her to realize that I had become a "true" convert to her faith. It helped her to know that from that day forward, God would be always at our side. When she shared these thoughts with me, I cried. Thanks be to God!


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