The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was celebrated two days ago on August 5th. I was planning to write a post about its personal significance to me, but I didn’t have the time. Now, I think I can devote more time and energy to this very important title of Our Lady.
This title of Our Lady comes from a particularly beautiful legend. A man and his wife who were childless prayed to the Blessed Virgin for a sign. On a hot day in the middle of August, a great deal of snow fell on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. It was decided by the man, his wife, and Pope Liberius to build a cathedral in honor of Our Lady on this same site. According to legend, Pope Liberius traced out the design of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in the snow on that same day.
For me, the feast is significant because it is the anniversary of my baptism. It happened when I was five years old in a beautiful church in the middle of Sofia, Bulgaria. I was baptized in the Orthodox Church because I really, really wanted to. I had seen other kids baptized and I wanted the same thing.
I don’t remember much from the ceremonies, but I do remember how interminably long they were. I thought that I would be immersed in the water and that was it, but it wasn’t. I think the services lasted for an hour and a half because my sister and my godmother’s son were baptized in the same ceremony.
At the time, I didn’t realize what baptism did to a person’s soul. When I was in the ninth grade, one of my teachers explained to me that baptism left an indelible mark on the soul and marked it out for God. I was also told to cherish the anniversary of my baptism as a kind of birthday. I still do although I don’t do anything special on that specific day except say some prayers in honor of Our Lady.
I’m curious if any of you out there celebrate the anniversary of your baptisms. If you do, do you do anything special? Are there any special customs?
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!