When you live in the northern hemisphere, August is not a time in which we are thinking about snow. In fact, when you live in a climate that experiences quite a lot of snow during the winter months, as I do, one specifically avoids thinking about snow for the other portion of the year, and August definitely falls into this category for me. In August, I am generally thinking about gearing up for back-to-school season, the nights starting to feel just a wee bit cooler, with less humidity, and the approach of the American football season, which my husband and I enjoy very much. Based on the above, you may think it odd that I am choosing August to write about Our Lady of the Snows.
Our Lady of the Snows, however, has a feast day of August 5. This is a surprise, right? I know it was for me! This can, however, be explained by the events from which this name for Our Lady developed. The title of Our Lady of the Snows developed from a tradition involving a Roman couple in 352. Both husband and wife had a dream in which Our Lady appeared to them and told them that she wanted a church built in a place on which snow would fall to mark the spot. Given that they lived in Rome, you can imagine that the couple was a bit curious; snow does not fall all that often there, especially in August! Sure enough, on August 5, snow covered the Esquiline Hill in Rome. All of Rome proclaimed this a miracle, and a church was built on the hill in 358. Through the years, the church has undergone a lot of restoring and refurbishing, and today it is known as the Basilica of St. Mary Major. This is another piece of information that I was quite surprised to discover!
As well, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who honor Our Lady of the Snows as their patroness, run an American shrine to Mary under this title in Belleville, Illinois, which features a Way of Light during Advent and Christmas season, and multiple small shrines to Mary under her various titles, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Lourdes.
For my personal devotional time, I absolutely love the image of Mary under this title; it simply leaves me with such a cozy feeling. Our Lady of the Snows is not a particularly well-known title for our Blessed Mother, and finding gift items bearing this image are difficult to come by. I had her in mind when I asked my friend Allison to craft matching rosaries for me and my daughter with a winter colorway theme. Despite her August feast day, Our Lady of the Snows still inspires a winter scene, to be sure! We could not find a rosary center featuring Our Lady of the Snows, so I asked Allison to use Our Lady of Lourdes instead.
The colors are just so evocative to me of Our Lady of the Snows, and the bead mix is called “Glacier.” It is a perfect winter rosary!
Our Lady of the Snows has a novena that one can pray each year from July 27 through August 4, leading up to her feast day, but of course we can ask for her intercession anytime!
Does anybody else have a devotion to Our Lady of the Snows? I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright 2019 Tiffany Walsh