During the pontificate of Liberius, the Roman patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honour. On 5 August, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision of the Virgin Mary which they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honour of Mary on the very spot which was covered with snow.

Click on a link to the Vatican website beginning a virtual tour.

1. Apse Basilica of St. Mary Major
2. Nave 1
3. Nave 2
4. Baptistery
5. Borghese Chapel
6. Chapel
7. Exterior
8. Loggia