Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

Nave Ceiling
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Built on the site of a miraculous August snowfall, this major basilica dates from the early 5th century. The huge church is lined with Byzantine mosaics and contains many important relics.

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Santa Maria Maggiore
Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore
Rome, Italy
41.897574° N, 12.498464° E
Date Published
October 8, 2013
Last Updated
April 11, 2015


August 4, 358
Miraculous Snowfall in Rome

According to a 13th-century legend, the Virgin Mary appears to Pope Liberius and the patrician Giovanni Patrizio in Rome, instructing them to build a church on the Esquiline Hill. That night, the floor plan is outlined by a miraculous snowfall. The church is named Santa Maria della Neve (St. Mary of the Snow) and later Santa Maria Liberiana after Pope Liberius...

Construction begins on Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

On the summit of the Esquiline Hill in Rome, construction of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica begins on the site of a former temple to Cybele.

Completion of Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome is completed under Pope Sixtus III (432-40). It is one of the first churches in the world to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Apse mosaic created by Jacopo Torriti at Santa Maria Maggiore

Under Pope Nicholas IV (1288-94), Jacopo Torriti creates the apse mosaic of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. The mosaic centers on the Coronation of the Virgin and includes Nicholas IV, Cardinal Jacopo Colonna, Saint Francis of Assisi, and other contemporary figures.

Facade mosaics added to Santa Maria Maggiore

Mosaics are created for the facade of Santa Maria Maggiore by Filippo Rusuti and his assistants.

Fontana creates Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore

Domenico Fontana creates the sumptuous Sistine Chapel for Pope Sixtus V in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Ponzio creates the Borghese Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore

Flaminio Ponzio designs the Borghese Chapel for Pope Paul V in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Fuga creates Baroque facade of Santa Maria Maggiore

Ferdinando Fuga creates the present Baroque facade of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Creation of brick campanile of Santa Maria Maggiore

The elegant brick campanile of Santa Maria Maggiore is given its present form.

April 16, 2008
July 16, 2006
November 11, 2010


  1. Blue Guide Rome, 10th ed.
  2. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide Includes details on all mosaics.