Today, August 5, is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
In 431, the Council of Ephesus proclaimed Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as Theotokos, Mother of God. This proclamation was made in order to make clear that Jesus was God incarnate, and not merely a creature, or one who had somehow attained divinity. If Jesus is truly God, and Mary is truly His Mother, than Mary is truly the Mother of God.
In honor of the Council’s proclamation of Mary as Mother of God, Pope Sixtus III (432-440), built this basilica on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. It is the oldest church in the West dedicated to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Some non-Catholic Christians misconstrue this to understand that Catholics believe that Mary is the cause of Jesus’ divinity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is God, therefore He is eternal, fully divine. Mary is a creature, like the rest of humanity. But, when God became man, He did so born of a woman. Mary gave her humanity to Jesus, He took His human nature from her, and it is because of her that He is fully human. Mary’s title “Mother of God” is an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus.
The short film below explains the history of the basilica and the place of honor Mary holds in Christianity.
“Lord, pardon the sins of your people. May the prayers of Mary, the mother of your Son, help to save us, for by ourselves we cannot please you.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.