Early on the morning of March 14, on the first full day of his pontificate, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major). There, he presented the Virgin with a bouquet of flowers and spent half an hour in prayer.
Again flashing that irresistible humility, he asked that the basilica be kept open to the public during his visit. “I’m a pilgrim,” he said, “and I just want to be one among the pilgrims.” However, in that case his wishes did not prevail; citing security concerns, papal security forces kept the doors closed to all but the staff and confessors of the basilica.
I’ve written before about the beautiful Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of Rome’s four major basilicas and site of the legendary Miracle of the Snows. Words cannot begin to describe the rich mosaics of the Virgin Mary as Theotokos, the great triumphal arch, the Crypt of the Nativity.
But these pictures, and this guided tour—well, that’s a good start!
Click this link, then move your cursor to wander the various chapels and rooms of the great basilica, Rome’s oldest church dedicated to Our Lady.