Our Lady of Aparecida
|Our Lady of Conception (who) Appeared|
Our Lady of Aparecida appeared to fishermen Domingos Garcia, Filipe Pedroso and João Alves in October 1717
|Queen and Patroness of Brazil|
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Major shrine||Aparecida, São Paulo|
|Attributes||Blessed Virgin Mary in traditional form of Immaculate Conception|
|Patronage||Brazil, Expectant mothers, newborn children, rivers and the sea, gold, honey and beauty|
|Controversy||(1978) Theft and Vandalism by Protestant Intruder
(1995) Second Public Slander and televised vandalism by an Evangelical Pentecostal Minister
Our Lady of Aparecida (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida [ˈnɔsɐ siˈɲɔɾɐ dɐ kõsejˈsɐ̃w ɐpɐɾeˈsidɐ]) is a celebrated 18th-century clay statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the traditional form of the Immaculate Conception. The image is widely venerated by Brazilian Roman Catholics, who consider her as the principal patroness of Brazil. Pious accounts claim that the statue was originally found by fishermen, who miraculously caught many fishes after invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary. The dark statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, Aparecida, São Paulo. The cult is not to the image, but for the first apparition of the Immaculate Conception in Brazil, for the first time ever in a black skin color. The image is considered a symbol of this event, and the apparition as a blessing to Brazil.
The feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida is October 12. Since the basilica's consecration 1980 by Pope John Paul II, it is also a public holiday in Brazil. The Basilica is the fourth most popular Marian shrine in the world, being able to hold up to 45,000 worshippers.
The statue has drawn attention when in May 1978, an intruder stole the clay statue from its shrine and broke it into pieces, and again in 1995, when a Protestant minister slandered and vandalized a copy of the statue on Brazilian national television.
According to the official account of the Aparecida apparition, 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, 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. After cleaning the statue, they found that it was a black version of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. 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.
The fishermen named the statue Nossa Senhora da Aparecida Conceição (English: Our Lady of the Appeared Conception). Neighbors began to venerate the statue, which came to be known as Our Lady of Aparecida, and a cult grew. The first chapel was built in 1745.
The statue 
A popular local tale claims that the clay statue was imported from Portugal while others cite that the statue was made by Frei Agostino de Jesus, a monk from São Paulo known for crafting artistic sacred images in clay. The small statue is less than three feet tall. The image was made around 1650, and must have been underwater for years, since it lost its original polychromy.
The image is dark brown in color and covered by a stiff dark blue robe of richly embroidered thick cloth with golden clasps. The statue wears an imperial crown which was added in 1904. Only her face and hands can be seen.
Patroness of Brazil 
Devotion to the statue grew rapidly, particularly among Afro-Brazilians, not only for its black Madonna status, but also because one of the first miracles attributed to the image was reportedly performed to an enslaved young man. Over the years following its apparition, veneration of the Virgin invoked as Aparecida increased as many miracles were attributed to her. 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 on the Morro dos Coqueiros (Hill of Palm trees), and 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.
In 1904, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the statue of Our Lady Aparecida was crowned by the archbishop of São Paulo, Dom 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. The "Papal Coronation" of the image of Aparecida was a major event attended by a vast concourse of the people and also by several civil authorities, including the then President of the Republic, Rodrigues Alves, who made the point of witnessing the act in spite of the separation of Church and State that had been instituted less than twenty years before, when Brazil became a Republic. The gold used for the manufacture of the Crown was donated by the exiled Princess Isabel, then the Head of Brazil's Imperial Family.
Subsequent to the pontifical coronation of 1904, several favours were bestowed by the Holy See upon the Brazilian devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida, including the grant of a proper office and Mass for her feast day. In 1908, the church now known as "the Old Basilica" received the title of Minor Basilica.
Twenty years later, the village that had grown around the church on Coqueiros hill became a municipality, named after the saint.
In 1930, the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Aparecida, was proclaimed the "Queen and Principal Patroness of Brazil" by Pope Pius XI, St. Peter of Alcantara retaining the position of Patron, but now as co-patron.
St. Peter of Alcantara had been declared Patron Saint of Brazil in 1826, at the time of the recognition of the independence of Brazil by the Holy See, when the Holy See and Brazil established diplomatic relations. St. Peter of Alcantara was chosen as Patron of the new country because Brazil's then Emperor and founder of the Empire of Brazil, Pedro I (born Prince Pedro de Alcantara), was named after the Franciscan saint. Given that the Mother of God outranks St. Peter of Alcantara in the hierarchy of the saints, with the proclamation of the Virgin Aparecida as Queen and Patroness of Brazil, the blessed Virgin Mary became the Nation's principal heavenly patron, and the Franciscan saint became the secondary patron.
In the wake of the papal decree naming Our Lady Aparecida Patroness of Brazil, on July 16, 1930, Cardinal Sebastião Leme da Silveira Cintra, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (then the Capital of Brazil), in the presence of several civil authorities and a vast popular concourse, dedicated Brazil to the Virgin Aparecida.
Up until the early 1950s, Aparecida remained an unassuming city with a small community of Redemptionists. They arrived from the sanctuary of the Virgin of Altötting in Germany and took on the responsibility for the shrine of Our Lady Aparecida, making it the first Redemptionist parish in Latin America. In 1958, due to the growth of the Catholic community around the Marian Shrine of Aparecida, the Holy See decided to erect the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Aparecida, separating its territory in part from the Archdiocese of São Paulo and in part from the Diocese of Taubaté and transferring three suffragan Dioceses that previously were subject to the Metropolitan Archbishop of São Paulo to form the new ecclesiastical province of Aparecida. The new See was led by administrators until 1964, when the first Archbishop of Aparecida was appointed.
|A series of articles on|
|Expressions of devotion|
Our Lady Aparecida has, more than once, been the source of religious conflicts among Roman Catholics and Protestants, primarily from the non-mainline churches, or those identified with charismatic, evangelical or fundamentalist theology (including all waves of pentecostalism), in contrast with other Protestants such as baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and presbiterians, with whom there are significantly better social relations with the Catholic majority and the irreligious second main minority.
On May 16, 1978, a Protestant took the statue from its niche on the Basilica after the last Mass of the day. He was chased by guards and some of the church goers. As he was caught, the statue fell to the ground breaking to pieces. Because the statue was made of clay that had been submersed in water for a long time, it was difficult to put the pieces back together, but a group of dedicated artists and artisans carefully pieced it together again.
On her feast day in 1995, a public holiday, an incident later known as "kicking of the saint" took place when televangelist bishop Sérgio Von Helder (or Helde), of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), kicked a replica of Our Lady Aparecida on a late-night religious program broadcast by Rede Record, which is owned by the UCKG. On the following day, Rede Globo's Jornal Nacional denounced the incident, causing a nationwide commotion. The event was perceived by Catholics as a major act of religious intolerance, causing a public outcry. Several temples of the UCKG were targeted by protesters, and Von Helder was transferred to South Africa until the end of the controversy.
In 1929 Pope Pius XI declared the shrine a minor Basilica. Our Lady of Aparecida was named Brazil's national saint in 1930, which designation was confirmed by Pope John Paul II in 1980. About 100,000 people usually attend services in Aparecida commemorating her every October 12.
The New Basilica 
In the mid-20th century, as the popularity of Our Lady of Aparecida grew, the construction of a much larger building to shelter the image became necessary. In 1955, work on the present Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida was begun. Architect Benedito Calixto designed a building in the form of a Greek cross, 173 meters long and 168 meters wide; the tower is 100 meter high, the naves have 40 meters and the dome is 70 meters high, covering a surface area of around 18,000 square meters. It can hold up to 45,000 people. The 272,000 square meters of parking hold 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.
Since then, the two Basilicas in the city of Aparecida have been known as the "Old Basilica" and the "New Basilica". Upon its completion, the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops declared the new Basilica a National Shrine.
As the National Shrine, dedicated to the patroness of Brazil, one of the functions of the Basilica is to function as a site of pilgrimage for laborers. The traditional pilgrimage of the laborers takes place each year on Brazil's independence holiday, September 7. According to recent estimates, the Basilica attracts about 8 million pilgrims a year.
The influence of the cult of Our Lady Aparecida on Brazilian Catholic society is incalculable. In 1992 a study showed that 296 parishes were dedicated to her while five cathedrals had the same title. In addition, many towns are named after the Virgin and so are many Brazilian women and girls. The modern art styled cathedral of Brasilia designed by Oscar Niemeyer is dedicated to Our Lady Aparecida, as Brasilia is the national capital and she is invoked as Brazil's special protector.
In 2004, to commemorate the centennial of the pontifical coronation commanded by Pope Pius X, and the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was crowned afresh. The renewed coronation was presided by the then Archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Eugênio Sales, in the capacity of special papal envoy of Pope John Paul II.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI granted the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida a Golden Rose. The "Old Basilica" also possesses a Golden Rose, awarded by Pope Paul VI in 1967. The Golden Rose of Paul VI was delivered to the "Old Basilica" by the Apostolic Nuncio, and its bestowal was a gift of the Holy See to mark the participation of the Supreme Pontiff in the commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the devotion to the Virgin of Aparecida. The "New Basilica"'s Golden Rose, awarded by Benedict XVI, was personally delivered to the shrine by the Supreme Pontiff, who visited the Basilica and celebrated Mass there during his 2007 Apostolic visit to Brazil.
Feast day 
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 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 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.
Cultural references 
The telenovela A Padroeira (The Patroness), broadcast on Rede Globo between June 18, 2001 and February 23, 2002, was a fictional portrayal of the finding of the Our Lady of Aparecida statue, loosely based on the 1865 novel As Minas de Prata by José de Alencar, which itself had been adapted for the telenovela format in 1966 by the now defunct TV Excelsior.
See also 
- Our Lady of the Pillar, an ancient legend which also has a feast on October 12
- Marian apparitions
- Black Madonna
- Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
- Our Lady of Aparecida profile at Patron Saints Index.
- Our Lady of Aparecida profile at the Mary of Nazareth Project.
- Allen, John. "A look ahead to Benedict in Brazil". National Catholic Reporter. May 3, 2007
- "Brazil's giant basilica is backdrop for Pope visit", May 6, 2007
- "Brazil: Our Lady "Aparecida" (who appeared)", Marian Titles in the Popular Religiosity of Latin America, Univ. of Dayton
- Our Lady Aparecida profile at Catholic Media.
- de Vries, Lloyd. "Pope Canonizes First Brazilian Saint". CBS News. May 11, 2007.
- Oliveira, Plinio Corrêa. "Feast Days of Our Lady: Our Lady Aparecida – October 12". Tradition in Action, Inc.
- Epstein, Jack (1995-11-24). "Kicking of icon outrages Brazil Catholics". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved on January 6, 2009.
- Video of Von Helder kicking the saint, hosted at CNN.
- "Church makes airwaves". BBC. 2000-08-03. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Lugo, Luis. "Pope to Visit 'Pentecostalized' Brazil". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. April 19, 2007.
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