Rome’s Miracle of the Snow in the middle of summer

Rome recreates a miracle snowfall every August.

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 2022 edition of the spectacle, organised with the support of the city, the Vatican and the culture ministry, will take place in Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore at 21.00 on Friday 5 August.

The snowfall and lightshow, traditionally accompanied by the Carabinieri band, will lead to traffic diversions in the area on Friday night.

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 in the basilica on 5 August as per tradition. 

What does the snowfall represent?

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.

Cover photo La Repubblica