Jeremiah 31.1-7; Jeremiah 31; Matthew 15.21-28
The Blessed Virgin Mary was declared Theotokos (the Mother of God) by the Council of Ephesus in 431; in 434 Pope Sixtus III dedicated the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome in her honour. The church had been built by Pope Sixtus’s predecessor, Pope Celestine I. It enshrines the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani, depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary as the help and protectress of the Roman people.
Construction of the basilica was made possible by the benefaction of a childless patrician couple in Rome. Legend has it that a miraculous shower of snow, in the midst of Roman summer, indicated the site on which it should be built on the Esquiline Hill. The legend is commemorated by dropping white rose petals from the dome during Mass on this day.