Visiting the Basilica of St. Mary Major

March 17, 2013

Papal Election

By Scot Landry

St. Mary Major is the most ancient Church in the west dedicated to the Blessed Mother.


Unlike the other Basilicas, the decision to build this Church to glorify God wasn’t one of an emperor but was based on strong desire by the faithful to honor the Mother of God.

When it was built it was on one of Rome’s highest hills and could be seen towering over everything else for miles away.

It was further developed over time.

Here is a link to the Vatican’s overview of this Patriarchal Basilica.

The 10-minute walk from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major was notable because the street connecting the two is one of the only tree-lined streets in Rome that I’ve seen.


Please spend some time with each of George’s photos below.


The Baptismal Font


St. Mary Major’s own Sistine Chapel (Named after Pope Sixtus)


The Confessio with a sculpture of Pius IX praying



Relics of the Manger


The Icon of the Madonna “Salus Populi Romani” (Salvation of the Roman People), which Pope Francis visited on his very first day as Bishop of Rome.


This image was carried in procession by Leo IV when a violent fire was destroying the Vatican neighborhood called the Borgo.  As the image was carried by the Pope, the fire died out.  It was also processed through the streets during World War II to prevent Rome’s bombing by the Nazis.  Due to thick cloud cover, Nazi bombers ended up missing the holy and residential sites and instead dropped the bombs on Rome’s largest cemetery.



Bernini’s tomb is located to the right of the altar at St. Mary Major.  Bernini was a gifted architect that sculpted some of the most visited sites in Rome, including so much of St. Peter’s Basilica.


The beautiful ceiling




A brief video from outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Thank you for visiting this blog for our special coverage here from Rome at  George’s photos can be viewed at

Scot Landry and George Martell


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