today's readings are from Nahum, Deuteronomy 32 and Mt. 16: 24-28
The first opportunity I had to visit Rome was in 1998, with my former high school teacher and now dear friend, Fr. John Vetere (who still helps out at Nativity for our Parish Reconciliation evenings).
Fr. John, being the priest and teacher that he is, made sure that I had a good introduction to various important religious sites of Rome. And it was mandatory that we had to visit the 4 Major Basilicas of the city: St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Paul's outside the Walls (which is literally outside the old walls of the city of Rome), and St. Mary Major, better known for its Italian name Santa Maria Maggiore.
I remember Santa Maria Maggiore quite well, not only in my visit in 1998 but in subsequent visits. The oldest and most important church in Rome dedicated to our Blessed Mother, it has been a place of prayer for me and for countless other Catholics.
Today, we celebrate the dedication of this Basilica, I have a few links to share with you to read more about it, including a link describing Pope Francis' first day of his papacy which included a visit to Santa Maria Maggiore: