Friday, August 05, 2005
Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snow  

Today marks the optional memorial of the dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snow. The Roman church, which is better known as the basilica of St. Mary Major, traces its history back to the year 358 when on August 4-5 a miraculous snowfall occurred on the spot where the church now stands. The tradition is that our Lady appeared to the current pope who was Pope Liberius and the patrician John and his wife prior to the night of August 4-5. In the dreams in which she appeared to the three, she indicated that a church should be built in her honor where the snow would fall. After the miraculous snowfall, John informed the pope of his dream, and Pope Liberius recounted his similar dream. After proceeding in a solemn procession to the Esquiline in Rome where the snow fell, the pope traced in the snow an outline for the future church. A little less than a century later, Pope Sixtus II dedicated the church in 432, which was one year after the conclusion of the Council of Ephesus in which our Lady had been proclaimed Theotokos or the Mother of God.

The Mother of God is the most honorable title which has been attributed to our Lady. How is it that Catholics and Orthodox can speak of Mary as the Mother of God? Did she precede God in time? Did she exist before God did?

Of course, God has no beginning or end. He simply is. He has always been, and He will always be. The Blessed Virgin Mary, although the most exalted of all creatures, is still a creature. She was created by God. She owes her existence to God.

In God's providence, He gave her a most blessed role. She was given the unique privilege of bearing the Word made flesh in her womb for nine months. At the end of her pregnancy, she gave birth to Jesus who is both fully God and fully man. He is not half god and half man. Neither is He two persons one divine and one human. Instead He is God who took upon Himself flesh. He is one Person.

Every mother, when she gives birth to a child, gives birth to a person. When our Lady gave birth to Jesus, she too, gave birth to a person. However, because Jesus is God, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to a Divine Person.

Before the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious was spreading the heresy that Jesus was two persons. St. Cyril of Alexandria opposed this teaching by proclaiming the Jesus was one Divine Person. At the Council in 431, Nestorius' teaching was condemned, and St. Cyril's teaching was upheld as the true doctrine of the Church. Consequently, at the Council of Ephesus to emphasize that Jesus is one Divine Person who is both fully God and fully man, the bishops declared that Theotokos, which is often rendered as the Mother of God, was an appropriate title for Mary. Since that time, by honoring our Lady as the Mother of God, Christians have upheld the teaching of the Church that Jesus Christ is one Divine Person.

Posted by David at 3:30 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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