Italy: Rome’s miracle of the snow in August

Rome: Rome celebrates La Madonna della Neve (Our Lady of the Snows) by recreating a miracle snowfall outside the Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore during the height of summer.

The spectacle normally takes place on the night of 5 August however this year it is set to snow on 30 August instead, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The event, organised with the support of the city, the Vatican and the culture ministry, will take place in Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore from 20.00 until midnight on Sunday 30 August.

The snowfall and lightshow, which will be accompanied by the Carabinieri band, will be dedicated to Pope Francis.

However the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore confirmed to Wanted in Rome that the 10.00 Mass in honour of La Madonna della Neve, which includes a shower of white flower petals dropped from the ceiling – repeated at 17.00 during Vespers – will take place on 5 August as per tradition.

According to legend, a fourth-century Roman couple wished to donate their possessions to the church, and prayed for divine guidance.

On the night of 4/5 August in the year 352 the Virgin Mary appeared to the couple in a vision, telling them that a miracle would reveal a site where they should build a new church.

That same night — so the story goes — a miraculous fall of snow landed on a hill in the Esquiline district of Rome.

Pope Liberius is said to have travelled to the snow-covered site, tracing an outline of the planned church whose construction was financed by the wealthy couple.

Although there is no historical basis for the story, the event is still celebrated each year with the surreal spectacle of snow-like foam and suds falling from the sky.