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Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Aparecida, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Commemorated on October 12
Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Aparecida, Sao Paulo, Brazil
In 1953, the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil set October 12 as the feast day of the country's patron saint, Our Lady of Aparecida, to coincide with Columbus Day, which is also Children's Day in Brazil. In 1980, when Pope John Paul II was visiting, the Feast of Nossa Senhora Aparecida became a national holiday. 
It was in October of 1717 that Our Lady's statue "appeared" (aparecida) when a fisherman caught it in the Paraíba River. After fishing unsuccessfully for hours, João Alves netted first the body, then the head. Then all three men in the boat found their nets full of fish. Filipe Pedroso kept the statue in his home, where it gradually attracted devotion. Miracles proliferated, and in 1734 the local priest moved the image to a new hilltop chapel. 
It is believed that a friar in São Paulo, Agostino de Jesus, sculpted the image around 1650. Only 16" tall, the terracotta statue of Our Appeared Lady, burnished like wood to a rich brown color, wears an ultramarine cloak and a large golden crown. In 1904, the Catholic Church crowned her Queen and Patron of Brazil. 
Photo of Our Appeared Lady during the pre-feast novena, Oct. 8, 2007,  from the Sanctuary's site, Information also from
Construction of the present basilica, second in size only to St. Peter's in Rome, was begun in 1954. Pope John Paul II consecrated it in 1980. Devotion to Nossa Senhora Aparecida, like the shrine itself, is huge. Many cities and some 300 churches in Brazil are named for her, and eight million pilgrims visit annually. 


According to the account of the discovery of the statue in October 1717, Dom Pedro de Almeida, Count of Assumar and Governor of the Province of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, was passing through the area of Guaratinguetá, a small city in the Paraíba river valley,[7] during a trip to Vila Rica, an important gold mining site.
As the people of Guaratinguetá decided to hold a feast in his honour, three fishermen, Domingos Garcia, João Alves, and Filipe Pedroso went down to the Paraíba waters to fish. The fishermen prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception that God would grant a good catch. The fishermen, having a run of bad luck, cast their nets in the River Paraiba and dragged up a headless statue of the Virgin Mary. They also salvaged the head and, according to the legend, then netted plenty of fish.[4] After cleaning the statue, they found that it was a black version of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.[1] Legend has it that when the fishermen recovered the body, then the head, the slender figure of the Aparecida Virgin became so heavy that they couldn't budge it.[2]
The fishermen named the statue Nossa Senhora da Aparecida Conceição (English: Our Lady of the Appeared Conception).[8][not in citation given] Neighbors began to venerate the statue, which came to be known as Our Lady of Aparecida, and devotion grew. The first chapel was built in 1745.[4]
Devotion to the statue grew rapidly, particularly among Afro-Brazilians, not only for its black Madonna status, but also because it was reported to have performed a miracle for an enslaved young man. Over the years following its discovery, veneration of the Virgin invoked as Aparecida increased as many miracles were attributed to her.[2] For the following fifteen years, the statue remained within Filipe Pedroso's family, and neighbors came to venerate it. Stories of Our Lady of Aparecida's miracles were spread throughout Brazil, and the Pedroso family built her a chapel which soon became too small for so many worshippers. In 1737 the priest of Guaratinguetá built her a chapel[2] on the Morro dos Coqueiros (Hill of Coconut Palms), where public visits began in July 1745.
The number of worshippers increased dramatically, and in 1834 work on a larger church was begun; this became known as the "Old Basilica" when work on the even larger "New Basilica" was started in 1955; it received pontifical approbation in 1980



According to a local tale the clay statue was imported from Portugal; others say that it was made by Frei Agostinho de Jesus, a monk from São Paulo known for crafting artistic sacred images in clay. The small statue is less than three feet tall.[3][9] The image was made around 1650, and must have been underwater for years, since it lost its original polychromy.[7]
The image is dark brown, and covered by a stiff dark blue robe of richly embroidered thick cloth with golden clasps. An imperial crown was added in 1904.



Since the 19th century, the Feast Day of Our Lady Aparecida is celebrated on October 12. The date coincides with the foundation of the Empire of Brazil in 1822, and is regarded in Brazilian culture as children's day. In the Roman Rite Catholic Liturgical Calendar approved for Brazil, the day of Our Lady Aparecida ranks as a solemnity, and is a holy day of obligation. The feast's rank as a day of precept was established by the Holy See at the request of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.
The feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida has been a National Holiday in Brazil since 1980. The federal statute declaring October 12 a National holiday in honour of "Our Lady of Aparecida", Patroness of Brazil, was passed by Congress and signed into law on June 30, 1980, during Pope John Paul II's first visit to the country; that was also the first visit by a Pope to Brazil, and during that visit the "New Basilica" of Aparecida was consecrated.


First Patronage

At the written request of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, Pope Leo XII declared Saint Peter of Alcantara the "Patron of Brazil" on 31 May 1826. The ruler of Brazil at that time, Pedro I (born Prince Pedro de Alcantara), was named after Saint Peter of Alcantara.[10][11] Later, as the Virgin Mary outranks St. Peter of Alcantara in the Catholic hierarchy of saints, with the proclamation of the Virgin Aparecida as the principal Catholic patron saint of Brazil, St. Peter became the secondary patron.

Canonical coronation[edit]
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 1904, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the statue of Our Lady Aparecida was crowned by the archbishop of São Paulo, Lino Deodato Rodrigues, at the decree of the Holy See and in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio. The Coronation was performed in the name and on behalf of Pope Pius X who granted this approval.[2] The "Papal Coronation" of the image of Aparecida was a major event attended by many people and by civil authorities including President Rodrigues Alves, who made the point of witnessing the act in spite of the separation of Church and State that had been instituted when Brazil became a Republic, less than twenty years before. The gold used for the manufacture of the Crown was donated by the head of Brazil's Imperial Family, the exiled Princess Isabel.

After the pontifical coronation of 1904 the Holy See granted a divine office and Mass for her feast day.

Twenty years later, the village that had grown around the church on Coqueiros hill became a municipality, named after the saint.



Our Lady Aparecida!

1. At this solemn and exceptional moment, I wish to open before you, O Mother, the heart of this people, in whose midst you have wished to dwell in such a special way—as in the midst of other nations and peoples—as in the midst of that nation whose son I am. I wish to open before you the heart of the Church and the heart of the world to which this Church was sent by your Son. I wish to open to you my heart also.

Our Lady Aparecida! The woman revealed by God to crush the serpent's head (cf. Gen. 5:15) in your Immaculate Conception! Chosen from all eternity to be the mother of the Eternal Word, who, at the annunciation of the angel, was conceived in your virginal womb as the Son of Man and a real man!

United more closely to the mystery of the redemption of man and of the world at the foot of the cross on Calvary!

Given on Calvary as mother to all men in the person of John, the Apostle and Evangelist!

Given as mother to the whole Church, from the community that was preparing for the coming of the Holy Spirit to the community of all those who are pilgrims on earth, in the course of the history of peoples and nations, of countries and continents, of eras and generations!...

Mary! I greet you and I say to you Ave! in this sanctuary where the Church of Brazil loves you, venerates you and invokes you as Aparecida, as revealed and given to her in a particular way. As her mother and patroness! As mediatrix and advocate with the Son whose mother you are! As the model of all souls that possess true wisdom and, at the same time, the simplicity of the child, and that deep trust that overcomes all weakness and all suffering!

I wish to entrust to you particularly this People and this Church, this whole great and hospitable Brazil, all your sons and daughters, with all their problems and their worries, their activities and their joys. I wish to do so as Successor of Peter and Pastor of the universal Church, entering into this heritage of veneration and love, dedication and trust, which for centuries has been part of the Church of Brazil and of all those who form it, without considering differences of origin, race, and social position, and wherever they live in this immense country. At this moment they have all been looking to Fortaleza and asking themselves: "Where are you going?"

O Mother! Let the Church be for this Brazilian people a sacrament of salvation and a sign of the unity of all men, adopted brothers and sisters of your Son and children of the heavenly Father!

O Mother! Let this Church following the example of Christ by serving man constantly, defend everyone, especially the poor and the needy, those living on the fringes of society and in want. Let the Church of Brazil always be at the service of justice among men and at the same time contribute to the common good of all and to social peace.

O Mother! Open the hearts of men and let everyone understand that only in the spirit of the Gospel and observing the commandment of love and the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount will it be possible to construct a more human world, in which the dignity of all men will really be given new value.

O Mother!  Let the Church which in this land of Brazil has carried out a great work of evangelization in the past and whose history is rich in experience, accomplish her tasks today with new zeal, with new love of the mission received from Christ. For this purpose grant her numerous priestly and religious vocations, so that the whole People of God may benefit from the ministry of the stewards of the Eucharist and of the witnesses to the Gospel.

O Mother! Accept in your heart all Brazilian families! Accept all adults and old people, the young and children! Accept the sick and all those who live in solitude! Accept workers in the fields and factories, intellectuals in schools and universities, all those who are working in any institution. Protect them all!

Do not cease, O Virgin Aparecida, to demonstrate with your own presence in this land that love is stronger than death, more powerful than sin! Do not cease to show us God, who so loved the world that he gave it his only Son, that none of us should perish but have eternal life (cf. Jn. 3:16). Amen!




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