Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE - INSIDE.

    by breughel Updated Jan 20, 2014

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    Santa Maria Maggiore - Ceiling.
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    The inside is much better than the outside!
    This was our third visit and we can confirm what I wrote a few years ago: The inside is much better than the outside !
    Once my eyes got accustomed to the penumbra inside the church on that late afternoon of December, I got overwhelmed by the space and the marvellous decoration. Our last visit was in April so that there was more light Inside.

    The paleo-Christian structure of the basilica divided into a nave and two side aisles by rows of Ionic columns is nearly perfect. But unique are the fifth century mosaics. The nave mosaics recount four cycles of the Old Testament featuring Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Joshua. Across the triumphal arch are scenes of the New Testament. The apse whose mosaics decoration was executed by the Franciscan Jacopo Torriti illustrates the life and death of Mary.

    Unfortunately for the visitor, as the church is rather dark, the details of these mosaics are not as visible as one would like them to be. (The mosaic photo is not mine by lack of light.)

    Impressive is the canopy or baldaquin over the central altar. Just before that altar is a reliquary crypt called "The Confession". It was constructed on demand of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) to contain pieces of ancient wood which tradition holds to be part of the Holy Crib. The imposing statue is that of Pope Pius IX kneeling before the relic contained in a precious crystal urn trimmed in silver.

    I will come back on two beautiful chapels "Borghese" and "Sistine" .
    of this basilica.
    Open (2013): 7 - 19 h (winter 18 h); Sundays 9.30 - 12 h. Free.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria Maggiore - Outside.

    by breughel Updated Sep 3, 2013

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    Santa Maria Maggiore - The back of the church.
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    Surprising with this "Basilica Maggiore" (papal basilica) is its peculiar layout on the Esquiline hill. If, as most visitors, one arrives by the via Cavour, the back of the church, the apse is first to appear.
    There is no entrance on this side on Piazza dell'Esquilino. Walking upwards around the church to the piazza S. Maria Maggiore, one sees a huge loggia between two palaces.
    If there was not the "campanile" the medieval bell tower, the highest in Rome with 75 m, the visitor would think to be facing just another palace of the 18th c. not a basilica!

    Actually the façade facing east is the work of Ferdinand Fuga (1741); it has a portico of five arcades and an upper loggia with three arches, which covers the thirteenth-century mosaics by Filippo Rusuti of the previous façade. The mosaics can only be visited on a special guided tour.
    The palace flanking the façade on the right is from 1605 and the second building on the left was designed by Ferdinando Fuga in 1743 to give an overall uniformity to the site.

    The layout of the church seems to find its origin I a pious legend called the "Miracle of the Snow". In 352 Pope Liberius and the patrician Giovanni had a same dream that the place for a church dedicated to the Virgin would be shown to them in a miraculous way.
    On 5th of August it snowed on the Aquilino hill and pope Liberius could trace the layout of the future church in the fallen snow.
    A nice legend from which derives the other name for this church: "Madonna della Neve" and the feast mass each year on 5 August.

    The 4 Major basilicas of Rome benefit in agreement with the Lateran treaty of 1929 of the privilege of extraterritoriality. The large stairs outside the apse are on extraterritorial ground where Italian policemen have no right of access. They are therefore closed to the public by a high metallic fence in order to avoid incidents (see photo 1).
    Open (2013): 7 - 19 h (winter 18 h); Sundays 9.30 - 12 h. Free.

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore

    by gwened Written Aug 26, 2013
    Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
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    Another church not to missed while in Rome. after seeing the cathedral we continue our journey on foot on via merulana to the church with a rest at the piazza vittorio.

    the church was awesome and we like it. The church is vast and on a lively area we like it too.

    here is more official info for the description that i am terrible at,
    Built after the Council of Ephesus in 431 under Pope Sisto III (432-440), this was the first Roman church dedicated to the cult of the mother of Mary, sanctioned deity at this eoucumenique Council.The history of the building also includes many legends of which the best known is that of the "miracle of the snow": the night from 4 to 5 August 356 Madonna appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius and rich Roman Patriarch Giovanni indicating the place where to build a church. At this point, that night it would have miraculously snowed.The Basilica is a mixture of architectures from several eras: the nave of ionic columns, the Christian shrine of the 5th century, the Romanesque campanile from the middle ages, the Renaissance ceilings, and Baroque domes.

    my source: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/sm_maggiore/index_it.html

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    Mary of the Snows

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    This is the largest of the 26 churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary - thus the Maggiore (Major). It's also one of four papal basilicas in Rome and the only one to retain its original paleochristian layout. Although greatly altered over time, the current structure dates from the 5th century and was constructed on the site of a 4th-century Roman basilica. As the legend goes, Pope Liberius, who'd had a vision of the Virgin, ordered the first church built on spot where she'd appeared, and the layout was dictated by a miraculous August 5th snowfall that outlined the shape. The 'Miracle of the Snow' is still celebrated in the basilica today.

    Because it's so old and so important there's far too much to cover in a paragraph or two! It's primarily known for its glittering, well-preserved mosaics - 5th century in the nave and arch, and 13th century in the apse - but has many other interesting assets such as:

    • Glorious baroque-style Borghese/Paolina Chapel containing a venerated icon of the Virgin known as Salus Populi Romani (Salvation of the Roman People). Some believe it to have been painted from life by St. Luke (although it's more likely 13rd century) and that it once prevented a plague.

    • Impressive side chapel (Sistine) with the tombs of 2 popes, beautiful altar with bronze angels and golden tabernacle

    • Cosmati marble flooring

    • The tallest campanile in Rome

    • The tombs of St. Jerome, St Matthew the Apostle, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and family, Paolina Borghese Bonaparte (sister of Napoleon) and Popes Nicholas IV, Sixtus V, Clement VIII, Clement IX, St. Pius V and Paul V

    • Columns flanking the nave that were either original to the first basilica or recycled from a pre-Christian Roman building

    This is a not-to-be-missed of Rome's churches. Admission is free and there's a VERY nice virtual tour with eight, 360-degree views on this website:

    http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/sm_maggiore/index_en.html

    One word of caution: while the basilica itself may be open, masses may be occurring at the high altar or in any of the chapels so no sightseeing is allowed in those areas during those times; review the schedule of services before you go. Sunday is the least favorable day for a visit due to heavy mass lineup.

    Hours and other info:
    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/basilica-di-santa-maria-maggiore.html

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    THE BORGHESE CHAPEL.

    by breughel Updated Dec 9, 2012

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    S. Maria Maggiore - Borghese chapel
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    This chapel, on the left side of the nave of Santa Maria Maggiore, is the most beautiful chapel I have seen in Rome. It was a private chapel, still separated from the nave by a high iron forged gate, built (1606 -1612) by order of Pope Paul V Borghese and designed by Flaminio Ponzio.
    In this chapel of a rare beauty is kept above the altar a famous icon of the Madonna and Child called "Salus Populi Romani" meaning Protectress of the Roman People.
    The low relief, by Stefano Maderno, above the altar shows Pope Liberius tracing the perimeter of the basilica in the snow according to the legend.
    The Borghese chapel (also called Pauline chapel) is shaped as a Greek cross. Powerful pilasters in Corinthian style support four large arches, upon which rests the dome with the Assumption of Mary painted by Il Cigoli. Several great artists of that time, a.o. Cavalieri d Arpino, participated to the decoration which combines art and faith in a perfect union.

    The papal monument in honour of Paul V is on the left side of the chapel.

    Open: 7 - 19 h (winter 18 h); Sundays 9.30 - 12 h. Free.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Blissful church........

    by leics Updated Dec 2, 2012

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    SM Maggiore
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    SM Maggiore is, simply, stunning. It should be the first Roman church you enter...........far less grandiose and 'in your face' than St Peter's, its mosaics and marbles dazzle, its complexities fascinate. If you have time to only visit one Roman basilica, make it this one.

    SM Maggiore dates from the fifth century, but there was a church on the spot from around 352AD. Pope Liberius dreamed that the Virgin Mary told him to build on a place where there was no snow lying on the Esquiline Hill, and so he did: the first church was called Santa Maria delle Neve (of the snow). This event is commorated on August 5th, when a special Mass is held and white rose petals fall from the ceiling (and the firemen create artificial snow in the piazza outside in the evening!).

    The original building is inside an 18th century shell, but it is still intact. There are tombs of Popes, and another Sistine Chapel (the marble in the church was 'recycled' from the ruins of ancient Rome, and is truly beautiful). Bernini is buried here, and a reliquary supposedly holds parts of Christ's crib.

    The floor is decorated with swirling patterns of mosaics, there are wonderful original mosaics inside the dome and in the loggia.....so much to see that I've made a travelogue about it.

    Da Vinci Code fans should not miss the 'eye in a triangle' painting, which is rather tucked away in the first chapel on the right as you enter.

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    Santa Maria Maggiore

    by Hildeal Written Sep 29, 2012
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    Is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Rome and a patriarchal basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to a legend, a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to the Pope commanding him to build the church, and the floor plan was outlined by a miraculous snowfall

    Churches are not only used for worshiping God, they’re also nicely decorated with gold walls and live life patternson the floor. The pictures on the wall in Santa Maria Maggiore gives us small sneak peeks about human relations and was their version of Youtube 1500 years ago.
    It was built 1500 years ago, but it hasn’t changed much. The lights under the paintings will only blow for two minutes before they go off- to avoid the pictures being damaged by the heat from the candies.

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    Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 1, 2012

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    Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major
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    The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome. There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major justifies the adjective by which it is distinguished from the other 25.
    Under the high altar of the basilica is the Crypt of the Nativity or Bethlehem Crypt, with a crystal reliquary designed by Giuseppe Valadier said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ.

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    THE SISTINE CHAPEL.

    by breughel Updated Apr 29, 2012

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    Santa Maria Maggiore - Sistine chapel altar.
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    There is a second Sistine chapel in Rome. But if the one of the Vatican owes its name to Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471 to 1484) this one on the right side of the nave in Santa Maria Maggiore was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V Peretti (1585 - 1590). During the five years of his pontificate Sixtus V displayed a remarkable energy. He exterminated the brigandage in and around Rome, rearranged the papal finances and spent immense sums in erection of religious and public works.

    He called his trusted architect Domenico Fontana to construct a Blessed Sacrament Chapel which would house the Crypt of the Nativity. This is an ancient Nativity Oratory, arranged as a reproduction of the cave in Bethlehem. The Christmas crib here is one of the finest in the world, with statuettes made by Arnolfo de Cambio c. 1289. The crypt is not always open to the public.

    Many artists worked on the Sistine Chapel. The altar is beautiful with four gold leafed bronze angels. The chapel contains the tombs of Sixtus V with his statue and the shrine of his early patron Pius V.

    SINCE END 2010 THE CHAPEL IS CLOSED FOR RESTORATION WORKS. Till when? Non lo so!

    Open: 7 - 19 h (winter 18 h); Sundays 9.30 - 12 h. Free.

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    Italy's Largest Church Dedicated to Mary

    by iblatt Updated Sep 23, 2011

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    Santa Maria Maggiore: Apse view
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    The full name of this great church is "Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore", and it officially belongs to the Vatican state and even patrolled by Vatican policemen!

    It was first built in the 5th century, under Pope Sixtus III, on the top of Esquilino Hill. It underwent major renovations and re-decoration in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and the present façade dates from the 1740s.

    I found the apse view of the basilica from Piazza del Esquilino more impressive than the front.
    Entering the church, its vast size struck me, with a simple, classical basilica architecture but a beautiful ceiling decorated with abundant gold. Above the altar and along the nave there are beautiful ancient mosaics dating from the 5th century.

    Several popes were buried here, and also the great Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

    Stairs leading down from the altar area bring you to a white marble statue of Pope Pius IX kneeling in prayer, his gaze fixed on the mosaic above tha altar: I found this statue inspiring.
    Another beautiful work of art is the bronze statue of Philip IV, King of Spain, work of Bernini (1692), near the entrance.

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  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria Maggiore

    by croisbeauty Updated Sep 14, 2011

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    Santa Maria Maggiore
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    There are sights which definatelly deserving to have more options for the pics, I'd say like ten. Yes, the answer could be, make more tips it's allowed and I agree but what to write about if am not good in writings, lol.
    Definatelly, I am not a scriboman, prefer to express my adventure with the photo, more then writing about the spot. It was said: "picture could tell more then 1000 words could say", and I second it strongly.

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  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria Maggiore

    by croisbeauty Updated Sep 12, 2011

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    Santa Maria Maggiore
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    They say Santa Maria Maggiore is the fourth largest church in Rome and the only basilica which still retains its original shape. The basilica, which is also called Liberiana was built in the first half of the 5th century, in time of Pope Sixtus III. Its Romanesque bell tower is the tallest in Rome.
    Santa Maria Maggiore is really very large church, its facade features portico with five openings. The interiors has three naves and double row of columns. The front part, where the altar is, is dominated by the great baldacchino, also work by Fuga. The ceiling is gilded by the gold and is work of Sangallo. There are some very important relics where high altar is, the crib of Presepio and the sarcophagus contains the bones of St. Matthew the Evangelist.

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    Santa Maria Maggiore

    by mindcrime Written Mar 21, 2011

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    Santa Maria Maggiore
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    Santa Maria Maggiore is a beautiful basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary which supposed to have chosen the spot through a weird miracle of falling snow upon the spot!

    It was built in 440AD and although I already knew that it’s great to visit I was shocked of the amazing interior! We closed the guide books and checked the beautiful mosaics, the greek columns, the floor, the coffered gilded ceiling (designed by Giuliano da Sangallo in 16th century with gold from Spain, probably the first gold that brought from America)

    We spent a lot of time walking around the numerous corners checking the details, and at the end we visited the reliquary crypt (pic 4) that you can see a statue of Pope Pius IX(pic 5).

    It’s open daily 7.00-19.00

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    The Papal Basilica

    by viddra Updated Aug 26, 2010

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    the church

    This church, the largest of the 26 churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was once the Palace of the Popes. The Pope still uses it; on 15 August he presides over the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

    Before you enter the church, stop for a while to admire the façade, the 14th-century mosaic of Christ the Ruler and Teacher and the doors.

    Inside, take your time to observe probably the oldest Christian mosaics in a Roman church, the gilded ceiling designed by Giuliano da Sangallo, marble columns from the original 5th-century basilica, the altar, frescoes, monuments, sacristy, baptistery, chapels... Here, you can find the tombs of Pope Sixtus and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

    With its 75 metres, the bell-tower of the church is the highest in Rome. It was rebuilt in the 14th century, and the pyramidal spire was added in the 16th century.

    The Marian column in front of the church, erected around 1614, is the model of numerous Marian columns around the world.

    The obelisk on the other side of the church was brought from the Mausoleum of Augustus and erected in 1597 as a beacon for pilgrims.

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  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria Maggiore

    by aukahkay Written Oct 11, 2009

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    Santa Maria Maggiore

    Santa Maria Maggiore is the fourth largest church in Rome and the largest dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and apart from some decorations, is the only basilica which still retains its original shape and character. The Romanesque campinile is the tallest in Rome.

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