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Photographer's Note

Look up to the ceiling of the entrance hall of the Basilica di Sta Maria Maggiore.

Tourists go blinly under this ceiling, enter the main hall, but you can see what they miss.

I was amazed.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (its Italian name), known in English also as St Mary Major, is an ancient Catholic basilica of Rome. It is one of the four major or four papal basilicas, which, together with St. Lawrence outside the Walls, were formerly referred to as the five "patriarchal basilicas" of Rome, associated with the five ancient patriarchal sees of Christendom (see Pentarchy). The other three papal or major basilicas are St. John Lateran, St. Peter and St. Paul outside the Walls. The Liberian Basilica (another title for the church) is one of the tituli, presided over by a patron—in this case Pope Liberius—that housed the major congregations of early Christians in Rome. Santa Maria Maggiore is the only Roman basilica that retained the core of its original structure, left intact despite several additional construction projects and damage from the earthquake of 1348.

The name of the church reflects two ideas of greatness ("major"), that of a major (or papal) basilica and that of the largest (major) church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

After the Avignon papacy formally ended and the Papacy returned to Rome, the Basilica became a temporary Palace of the Popes due to the deteriorated state of the Lateran Palace. The papal residence was later moved to the Palace of the Vatican in what is now Vatican City.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_Santa_Maria_Maggiore

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Additional Photos by jalab temen (jalab_temen) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 438 W: 73 N: 291] (2193)
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