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Tuesday, July 29, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUL 29, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, will be in the United States during the month of August. On two occasions during the first two weeks he will preside at Eucharistic celebrations and on two other occasions he will address the Knights of Columbus.

On Sunday, August 3, the archbishop will deliver a homily at the Mass for the 165th anniversary of St. Malachy Church in Doe Run, Chester County, Pennsylvania. On August 7 he will speak to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in Washington, D.C. Later that same day he will give an address to the Knights of Columbus Eucharistic Congress at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on the topic "What is the Purpose of a Eucharistic Congress?" On August 15, feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop Foley will deliver a homily at Mass in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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VATICAN CITY, JUL 29, 2003 (VIS) - On August 5, as it has done for centuries, St. Mary Major Basilica will celebrate the miraculous snowfall that occurred during the night of August 4-5, 358 on the site where the basilica was built, according to a communique from the basilica administration.

Three days of preparation, in which Cardinals Francesco Mario Pompedda, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Sergio Sebastiani, prefect of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Virgilio Noe, archpriest emeritus of St, Peter's Basilica will participate, will mark this annual event. The highlight on August 5 will be a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Cardinal Carlo Furno, archpriest of the basilica. During both Mass and Second Vespers the most noteworthy moment of this feast day occurs when there is a shower of flower petals from the ceiling of the basilica, to commemorate the 358 August snowfall.

According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to two faithful Roman Christians, the patrician John and his wife as well as to Pope Liberius (352-366), asking that a church in her honor be built on the site where snow would fall the night of August 4-5. Pope Liberius traced the outlines of the church in the snow and the first basilica was built on that site. It was completed about a century later by Pope Sixtus III, following the Council of Ephesus in 431 during which Mary was declared to be the Mother of God.

The basilica is called St. Mary Major as well as St. Mary of the Snows and the Liberian Basilica, for the Pope who ordered it built. It is famous for housing the relic of the crib of the Baby Jesus as well as the image of "Salus Populi Romani" which is revered by Romans, and which tradition says was painted by St. Luke.

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