In 1235, the island of Ibiza became a Catholic stronghold, when the incumbent Muslim Moors, were invaded and defeated by the Christian King of Aragon, James the first. A Templar Knight, he converted the Mosque, that had stood for over four centuries and in its place, built an impressive Church in honour of Santa Maria De Les Neus, translated into English as, Mary Of The Snows. In the Catholic faith, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a much devoted figure and is regarded as a Holy, benevolent and warm woman, especially with the layman. She has a long tradition of Marian Apparitions, which have helped the Catholic Church convert millions of people to the faith. When a Marian Apparition or visitation was made, it was common practice to build a church on the holy ground that she appeared on.
During the reign of Pope Liberius, 352 – 356 AD, a wealthy Roman family, without heirs, bequeathed their substantial fortune to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They prayed intently to her, to ask for guidance as how best to employ their fortune in her honour. Their prayers were answered when she appeared to them in the night telling them to go on the following day, August 5th 366AD, to one of the seven hills of Rome, the Esquiline Mount. There, in the heat of a Roman summer, they would find an area of ground covered with snow. On this land they were to build a church in her honour. The snow was witnessed by many people and was recorded as a fact, even Pope Liberius himself was present to confirm it. This visitation became known as the Mary Of The Snows miracle. The ground that the miracle of the snows fell on still has a church built on it. Today, it is known as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggorie.
Before the Conquest of the island, the Catalans decreed, that under the protection of San Ciriaco, Ibiza’s first Roman Catholic parish would be dedicated to Mary, hense the naming of the Church in her honour and, as it was captured during the feast of the Mary Of The Snows miracle, it adopted that name. The church underwent a number of refurbishments down through the centuries and became a Cathedral in 1782. The Catalans were the last people to conquer Ibiza and today, remain the predominant culture and religion on the island, with their own unique dialect called Eivissenc. The people of Ibiza celebrate their Patron Saint during a spectacular festival of fireworks and parades, that take place in Ibiza town, each year from the 5th to the 8th of August.