During the pontificate of Pope Liberius, (352-366 A.D) the Roman Patrician John and his wife, who were without heirs, made a vow to donate their possessions to Our Lady. They prayed to her that she might make known to them in what manner they were to dispose of their property in her honour. It was the summer time on August 5, during the night, snow fell on the summit of Esquiline Hill and, in obedience to a vision which they had the same night, they built a basilica, in honour of Our Lady on the spot which was covered with snow. The church was originally built by Pope Liberius and was called after him Basilica Liberii or Liberiana.
Some sects were averse to this development so they raised an issue to argue that no importance shall be given to Our Lady.
In 428 AD, Nestorius the newly consecrated Bishop of Constantinople, from the pulpit, he attacked that Mary’s Title as Theotokos that is Mother of God and claimed that even though Mary is Christokos that is “Mother of Christ”, She cannot be the Mother of God. Shortly afterwards, the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, wrote a letter to Nestorius in order to correct the said error.
After receiving his reply, Cyril wrote a letter to Pope Celestine and forwarded Nestorius response. Cyril submitted both his writings and Nestorius response for papal judgement.
After examining the documents, Pope Celestine condemned Nestorius’ teaching and ordered him to recant in ten days. The pope also authorized Cyril to receive the recantation or else condemn and depose Nestorius from his See. Nestorius refused to recant and published a clearer condemnation against the title Theotokos. He wrote: A mother cannot bear a Son older than herself. If Mary is called Mother of God, she is made a Goddess. The man Jesus… is the temple, the vesture of the word…. God did not die. and so on. Nestorius refused to submit to Cyril and requested a General Council to discuss this issue.
A General Council in Ephesus was called and organized. It opened on 22nd June 429, but Nestorius refused to personally attend. The Council condemned Nestorius and his followers. The council’s decrees and definitions were approved by Pope Sixtus III in 431 since Pope Celestine had already died. Nestorius fled to Persia.
Pope sixtus III in 432 it was extended to celebrate on 5th August to commemorate the dedication of the church “Sancta Maria Maggiore” on the Esquiline Hill in Rome and dedicated to Our Lady that is Dedicatio Sanctae Mariae and it was extended to all the churches of Rome and finally it was made a universal feast. Sancta Maria Maggiore means that the church is the Major Church of all Marian churches in the world.
“Thasnavis’ means “snow falling“ in Portuguese Language
so it is called as “Sancta Maria Thasnavis” that is
‘Sancta’ means ‘Holy’,
‘Maria’ means ‘Mary’ and
‘Thasnavis’ means ‘Snow falling’.
St.Thasnavis Matha Church (Our Lady of Snows Church),
Nagercoil Town 629002,
Tamil Nadu, INDIA.