La Madonna della Neve: celebrating snow in August

Wed, 08/05/2009 - 03:52
Every 5 August, La Madonna della Neve, known as Our Lady of the Snow or Our Lady of the Snows to English-speaking Catholics, is celebrated throughout Italy, particularly in Rome at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore on Esquiline Hill. "Snow in Rome?" you may be wondering. Indeed, snow in Rome is quite rare, which is exactly why the Madonna della Neve is such a big deal.

As legend goes, a Roman patrician named Giovanni and his wife wanted to donate their possessions to the church; they prayed to be shown exactly how to distribute the assets, and that night (5 August) a miracle snowfall graces the summit of the hill. Following a dream they had the same night, they commenced building a basilica in honor of Santa Maria Maggiore on the snow-covered spot.

Now each 5 August, just as summer vacation is really heating up in Italy, "snow" falls into the streets of Rome and many other places throughout Italy. Although actual snow would be a welcome respite from the scorching August heat, alas, these flakes are actually flower petals or small confetti.

Here are some videos of the celebrations throughout Italy:

Will there be a miracle of snow this 5 August? Stay tuned!