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Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Rome, dating back to 432 during the Papacy of Pope Sixtus III. Its origins, however, are due to Pope Liberius, who built the once called, Liberian Basilica, to commemorate the said appartion of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a Roman aristocrat and his wife. According to legend, the outline of the church was physically laid out on the ground by a miraculous snowfall that took place on August 5, 358.
In fact the miracle is celebrated every year with the dropping of rose petals from the dome during mass on the anniversary of the occasion.
It contains a patrimony of art including exquisite ancient mosaics surely worthy of a visit. Due to the age of the original church, it has seen many alterations through the centuries. The Athenian marble columns supporting the main nave date back to its origins and the bell tower, one of the highest in Rome measuring at 75 meters and is medieval. The mosaic apse depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, is from the late 13th century, whereas the ceiling, designed by the Spaniard Guiliano da Sangallo, is 16th century. The piazza in front of the church also holds its share of artwork like the column in the shape of a cannon barrel crowned with a cross, which commemorates the massacre of the Protestants in Paris on Saint Bartholomew's Day, in 1572, erected by Pope Clement VIII who finally put an end to the thirty year religious war in France.
The beautiful. the Marian column, a monument in the form of a column surmounted by a figure or a Christian symbol, depicting the Madonna and child was done in 1614, following designs by sculptor and architect Carlo Maderno and which later served as a model for numerous Marian columns that followed in many Catholic countries.
The present fašade was added in 1743 preserving the original mosaics.
The Bethlehem Crypt, found below the sanctuary of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore holds the burial places for many significant figures in the history of the Roman Catholic Church including Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Church, who translated the Bible (Vulgate) into Latin 4th century, Pope Pius V and renowned Italian artist and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini The Crypt also contains an altar and seating for the Holy Mass.

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