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For historical reasons (see below), the appellation "Liberian Basilica" is also to be found.
This is the junior of the four papal basilicas in Rome, the other three (on order of seniority) being San Giovanni in Laterano, San Pietro in Vaticano and San Paolo fuori le Mura.
Santa Maria Maggiore is a 5th century papal basilica with a postal address at Via Liberiana 27, which is in the rione Monti.
The main entrance is on the Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore. Alternative names to be found in the sources are Santa Maria della Neve (Our Lady of the Snow) after the foundation legend (see below), and Santa Maria ad Praesepem after the relic of the manger (presepe) which is enshrined here.
The entrance was under the present apse of the basilica.The basilica is regarded as the most important church worldwide dedicated to Our Lady.It is served and administered by a Chapter of Canons headed by a cardinal, and has the King of Spain as its secular protector and patron.The death of Pope Liberius caused a civil war among Roman Christians, because no agreed procedure for electing a pope had yet been worked out.Pope St Damasus I and a rival called Ursicinus were elected, and their supporters started to kill each other.