Our Lady of the Snows


Feastday: August 5

Devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows is one of the oldest devotions to Mary. It has direct ties to the legend about a marvelous snowfall in Rome in 352 A.D. Mary had indicated in a dream to a wealthy, childless Roman couple that she wanted a church built in her honor and the site for this church would be covered with snow.

On a hot, sultry morning on August 5, Esquiline Hill was covered with snow. All Rome proclaimed the summer snows a miracle, and a church to honor Mary was built on the hill in 358 A.D. Restored and refurbished many times, this church, now the magnificent Basilica of St. Mary Major, still stands today as the seat of devotion to Our Lady of the Snows in the Catholic Church. However, Our Lady of the Snows is honored here, not so much because of the legend, but because of her special role in the Church that is by its very nature, missionary. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – the congregation of priests and brothers who operate this Shrine – following the inspiration of their founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod – have always called on Mary as their principal patroness, one who looks upon their missionary efforts with a mother’s love.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is a Catholic shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Belleville, Illinois, nine miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. The Shrine's director is the Reverend Father Tom Ovalle, OMI. The shrine is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville, but is not part of that diocese; rather, it is beholden to the United States Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and operated by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Shrine name refers to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, where legend says snow fell in the summertime.

One of the largest outdoor shrines in North America, it includes a restaurant, a hotel, an apartment complex for retired persons, a residence for the Oblates, a visitors and conference center, and a large gift shop. During Advent and Christmas, the Shrine hosts the "Way of Lights", an outdoor light display that features over 1.1 million white lights and attracts over 350,000 visitors annually.

The Oblates make possible a number of spiritual and family programs for the enrichment of the local community, for the Midwest region, and for North America. The Shrine's Youth Ministry, Adult Spirituality, Hispanic Ministry, Liturgy, and Events Departments host a variety of programs year-round, tailored to meet the needs of the Shrine's many pilgrims.

The Shrine also includes a church, a natural outdoor amphitheater, Stations of the Cross, a Resurrection Garden, a depiction of the Lourdes Grotto, an Annunciation Garden and a devotional site for Our Lady of Guadalupe


Prayer to Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snows, Immaculate Queen of the Universe, from this privileged sanctuary, Thou has bestowed so many countless graces and pledges of love upon the hearts and souls of millions. O Mother, from this cradle of Christianity, this Mother Church of all churches, deign to shower forth the graces of thine Immaculate Heart upon the remnant Faithful throughout the world, wherever they may be, and grant them the graces of a childlike love and unwavering fidelity to the holy truths of our Faith. Grant, good Mother, to the faithful Bishops of the Church the grace to defend Her Sacred Teachings, and to persevere courageously against all the enemies of the Holy Church. Amen.

Novena Prayer to Our Lady of the Snows

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that
anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins,
my Mother; to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Our Father
Hail Mary
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Therese, The Little Flower, pray for us.
Glory Be To The Father


Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore)










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