Reflection for Wednesday 5 August Today we visit Mary Major. This is one of the most beautiful Basilicas in Rome.
Today the church gives recognition to the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major. There are four major basilicas in Rome:
St Peter’s, which is built over the tomb of St Peter.
St Paul’s Outside the Walls, which is built over the tomb of St Paul.
St John Lateran, which is the official seat of the bishop of Rome.
St Mary Major, which is definitely not the tomb of Mary.
I had the great privilege of visiting all four of these beautiful basilicas during a pilgrimage in 2003. The significance of Mary Major is that it is the largest Marian Catholic church in Rome. Built in the fourth century, it has been added to several times and contains several significant relics, including the crib of Jesus which is in an urn beneath the main altar. Recent popes have had a special affinity to this basilica – including Pope Francis who visits it regularly before travelling to other countries.
This brings to mind the importance of Marian devotion in our lives. Mary was given to us as our own mother by Christ as he hung on the cross and gave John the true privilege of calling Mary his (and our) mother. As such, Mary offers us an intimate relationship with her and a closeness to her Son that we should prize in our lives.
Catholics are sometimes accused of worshipping Mary. This is not true. We only worship God. But this does not stop us from having a special devotion to Mary who is always there to give us support and guidance in our relationship with her son Jesus. Buildings, statues and other works of art which exist in order to draw us nearer to her are a great gift and worthy of the attention that they receive.
So, today and all days, you are encouraged to pray to Our Lady for her intercession in your life – especially in these challenging times. Maybe saying a whole rosary is a challenge for every day but there are other prayers. Perhaps set your alarm for midday every day and recite the Angelus? Or say a Hail Mary when you begin a journey or a meeting. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
God Bless and stay safe. Dc Mike and the team.