Basilicas Huddled Around Christ

Snow on Esquiline Hill on August 5, 366
On August 5th in AD 352, on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, snow covered a large patch of ground, in spite of the summer heat.

The snow marked the spot where the Pope was to build a basilica in honor of the Mother of God, St. Mary Major.

Now, is Mary a major? An English major? Drum major? The very model of a modern major general?

No. Mary is Mary, the Blessed Mother. St. Mary Major is the church, one of the four major basilicas of Rome.

Anybody know what the other major basilicas of Rome are?

…One each for the two Apostles who were martyred in Rome…St. Peter and St. Paul. And one for the beloved disciple…St. John.

So, in the city of Rome, the buildings are arranged like the band of the most loving disciples, gathered around Christ. St. Peter here, St. Paul there, St. John here, and the Blessed Mother over here.

And St. Joseph is all the way over here in Martinsville, Virginia?

No. All the saints who love Christ are close together in heaven. We can be here, on the other side of the world from the church of St. Mary Major, and still our Lady and the saints kneel right alongside us as we worship the triune God.

Snowfall in August

Snow on Esquiline Hill on August 5, 366
Snow on Esquiline Hill on August 5, 366

Devoted readers know that we have often referred to the Roman basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Mary Major. Some of us visited this beautiful church last fall.

SantaMariaMaggiore_frontThe location for the Roman basilica of Our Lady was determined by a small patch of snowfall which occurred in the heat of Roman summer. Fr. Zuhlsdorf has an excellent description of the Roman heat in his blog post of two years ago

…Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said that he will vote to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, in spite of ideological differences.

Six decades ago, there was another Carolina Senator Graham–Frank Porter Graham. He had been the President of the University of North Carolina.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
In that capacity, Graham had written to Fiorello LaGuardia, then Mayor of New York, supporting the appointment of philosopher Bertrand Russell to a temporary teaching position at City College of New York. Graham signed the letter along with a number of other University Presidents.

Meanwhile, Fr. Robert Gannon, President of Fordham, America magazine, and many others voiced their vehement opposition.

A clash of cultural presuppositions erupted. Russell was the author of, among other essays, “Why I am not a Christian.”

COMING SOON: Much more on this…