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This is a charming story, but unfortunately there is no trace of it before the second millennium.
The first direct documentary reference to it dates from 1288.
Unlike the canons at the Lateran, those here are secular priests and not religious.
The ancient parish has been appropriated to the church of Santi Vito e Modesto nearby, so the basilica is no longer parochial.
Pictures of the basilica on Wikimedia Commons are here. The traditional English version of the name is "St Mary Major".
This is confusing to many, but it simply means that this is Rome's principal church dedicated to Our Lady (there are very many others).
This measured some 37 by 30 metres, and was six metres below floor level.
The entrance was under the present apse of the basilica.
If the conclusion of the archaeologists as regards the last point is correct, then this ancient edifice seems to have post-dated the foundation of the first church traditionally located here. According to the Liber Pontificalis, this first church (the so-called Basilica Liberiana or "Liberian Basilica") was founded in the 350s by Pope Liberius.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.Since 1929, the basilica has been "extraterritorial".This means that it is part of Italy, but is completely in the care of the Vatican City with the same legal status as a foreign embassy.