Our Lady of the Snows

ML031 Box 28 Marian Holy Card Collection


United States of America


Devotion to Our Lady of the Snows is one of the oldest devotions to Mary in the United States of America. It has a direct connection to the incredible snowfall that happened in Rome in 352 AD. Mary had apparently indicated in a dream to a wealthy, childless Roman couple that she wanted a church built in her honor and the site for this church would obviously be covered in snow. She probably appeared to them because they had vowed to leave the Virgin Mary as the sole heir to their wealth when they died. Then, on the morning of August 5, Esquiline Hill was covered on snow. This was particularly odd because August 5th was a very hot day. Everyone in Rome saw the summer snow as a miracle and built a church in honor of Mary in 358 AD. This church has been restored numerous times and now stands as the Basilica of St. Mary Major and stands in place of devotion to Our Lady of the Snows. It is also known as other names such as the Basilica of Liberius, Saint Mary of the Crib because it enshrines relics of Christ’s Crib; lastly, Saint Mary Major, to distinguish it from the many other Roman churches dedicated to the Mother of God. In Belleville, Illinois, the devotion to Our Lady of the Snows started when Father Paul Schulte commissioned the famous artist J. Watson Davis to paint a picture of Our Lady of the Snows. The image depicted Mary and Oblate missionary and his airplane on a sick call to an Inuit (Eskimo) mission with Our Lady of the Snows Surrounded by rays of the Northern Lights. When Fr. Paul Schulte moved to Belleville, he hung the painting in the seminary chapel. It was at that time that Fr. Schulte and Fr. Edwin Guild began to develop the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate and to adopt the devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows which was finalized in April of 1943. The first outdoor Novena was held in 1951. The last day of the celebration was known as the Feast of Our Lady of Snows and was held on August 5. After a few years of holding the event, it began to attract thousands of worshipers. The painting was given a place of prominence in the new chapel at St. Henry’s. However, the painting is now on display in the visitor’s center lobby at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows. As devotion to her grew, the Oblates wanted to find a location for a shrine to be built in her honor. The Oblates is one of the largest religious congregations in the world. They are called The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. They purchased 80 acres of farmland on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley. They recruited men and women to develop the land and eventually purchased 20 more acres. They planted trees and shrubbery on the land because they wanted the shrine to look as beautiful as possible.



Researched by Scott A. Vater

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ML031 Box 28 Marian Holy Card Collection

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