Patronages of the Immaculate Conception

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La Inmaculada Concepción de Maria by Juan Antonio de Frías y Escalante. Oil painting on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts. Córdoba, Spain.

In the Catholic Church, several locations around the world invoke the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. Catholic diocesan authorities with the expressed and written approval of the Pope in countries including Brazil, Korea, the Philippines, Spain, and the United States of America designate the Blessed Virgin Mary as their principal patroness.

As part of the patronage, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is often observed both religiously and culturally within these countries. Numerous national parades, processions and cultural festivities are associated with this patronage ranging from public holidays to holy day of obligation. Several Popes have conferred this title of patronage, sometimes initiated by bishops.

The list below enumerates the various countries by which the Pope, through a papal bull has formally granted the Immaculate Conception as the patroness of the people and its land or kingdom.

The list of Pontifical declaration does not include Ireland, Nicaragua and Portugal.


 Brazil —An image of the Immaculate Conception statue as Our Lady of Aparecida that is venerated as national Patroness in Aparecida, Brazil.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the official Patroness of Brazil under the localized title Our Lady of Aparecida (Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (who) Appeared).[1]

  • On 16 July 1930, Pope Pius XI declared the Immaculate Conception under the title of Our Lady of Aparecida to be the principal patroness of Brazil, namely widespread in the Archdiocese of Saint Sebastian of River of January. The pontifical decree indicated that Pope Leo XIII granted the approval on the devotion of the image under the title "Fossa Behihora de Gonceigao Apparecida".
  • Pope Pius XI declared Mary under this title Patroness of Brazil through a papal bull of 16 July 1930, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli.


 Korea — A 1948 French image of the Immaculate Conception at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, Korea.

Amidst Christian suspicion and persecution at the time, Pope Gregory XVI invested ecclesiastical interest in strengthening the first bishopric in Korea. In 1831, he established the first and only Apostolic Vicariate in Korea which survived no foreign Catholic priests since the anti-Catholic persecutions that went on earlier that year.[3][4] According to Cardinal Nicolas Cheong Jin-suk, in 1841, Pope Gregory XVI solemnly dedicated the Korean Catholic Church to the Virgin Mary under the title "Immaculate Virgin".[5][6][7]

On 6 May 1984, Pope John Paul II reiterated this patronage by entrusting the Republic of Korea to the Virgin Mary, given at the Myeong-dong Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Seoul, Korea.[8] In the Apostolic Letter, John Paul II noted that Bishop Imbert Bum first consecrated Korea to the Immaculate Conception in 1837, followed by Bishop Jean Joseph Ferréol in 1846 along with Saint Joseph as its co-patron in the village of Surich’igol, nearby the city of Gongju.[6][7][9] According to the papal brief, a similar re-dedication of patronage to the Immaculate Conception was invoked on by the French Bishop Gustave Charles Mutel (1854-1933) on 29 May 1898, when the cathedral was ceremoniously opened to the Korean public.


 Philippines — The statue of the Immaculate Conception in Manila Cathedral, sculpted by Italian national artist Vincenzo Assenza (1915—1981).

In his papal bull Illius fulti praesidio, dated 6 February 1578, Pope Gregory XIII established the diocese of Manila[10] and decreed that its cathedral should be under the invocation of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[11] The same invocation was given to the cathedrals of Nueva Segovia and Cáceres by Pope Clement VIII by decree of 13 August 1595.[11]

After the Philippines ceased to become Spanish colony, the first Provincial Council of Manila petitioned the Holy See for the privilege to continue using blue vestments for the Feast of Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius X granted this request via in a special audience, with the privilege included in a list of indults granted to the Philippines, dated 11 February 1910, executed by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val.[12]

By the Apostolic Letter Impositi Nobis of 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, at the request of the bishops in the Philippines, declared the Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception as principal patroness of the Philippines with Saints Pudentiana and Rose of Lima as secondary patronesses, mentioning that the 1907 Provincial Council of Manila invoked "Maria Immaculata" as patroness of the whole Filipino people and that historical documents indicated Saint Pudentiana as Patroness of the Philippines from the 16th century and Saint Rose of Lima from the 17th.[13] The bull only affected those patronesses of the Philippines that were ordinally ranked. Since 1571, Saint Pudentiana was principal patroness of the Philippines; and since 1670, Saint Rose of Lima was principal patroness of the Indies, thereby also becoming a de iure principal patroness of the Philippines.[14] These two patronesses were demoted to secondary rank in deference to the Immaculate Conception.

In contrast, Our Lady of Guadalupe as Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines since 16 July 1935 by Pope Pius XI was made null and void.[15][16]

Among various fiestas and rituals honouring the Immaculate Conception's patronage is the annual Grand Marian Procession in Manila, where various statues of the Virgin Mary depicting her different titles and apparitions are borne in procession. The images are removed from their respective shrines and brought around the Spanish colonial capital district of Intramuros towards Manila Cathedral, which is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The event is administered both by the Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción and the Intramuros Administration, in cooperation with the City Government of Manila and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.

The Philippines celebrated the 1954 Marian year by releasing a commemorative stamp featuring an image of the Immaculate Conception, and re-printed again in 1958.[17] On 29 March 2017, the Philippine government through the House of Representatives approved Bill # 5241 declaring December 8 as a non-working official holiday, and was officially signed into constitutional law on 23 December 2017 under Republic Act No. 10966 by President Rodrigo Duterte in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as patroness of its country.


 Spain — In 1760, Pope Clement XIII settled the heated dispute in Spain, supported by royal decree, installing the Immaculate Conception as the Kingdom's patroness. "La Inmaculada Purisima Concepcion de Maria" by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Prado, Spain.

By Papal decree, the Immaculate Conception alone is the universal and national patroness of Spain, by virtue of a papal mandate issued by Pope Clement XIII on 8 November 1760, while Saint James the Greater remains, the same pope declared, the primary patron[18] of the Spanish people. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is also one of the nine national and public holidays and a holy day of obligation.

The patronage settles the dispute between a heated religious debate during the mid 1600s, when followers of the mythical figure Saint James Matamoros wished to impose him as the national patron saint versus the followers of Saint Teresa of Avila.

On 11 September 1759, the elected members of the Spanish Cortes petitioned King Charles III of Spain to request from the pope the "universal patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in all the Kingdoms of Spain and the Indies".[19]

With the papal bull Quantum ornamenti of 8 November 1760, Pope Clement granted the request of King Charles III, declaring the Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the whole of the Kingdom of Spain along with its eastern and western territories,[20] (in the Americas and the Philippines).[21][22][23]

In another document, Pope Clement granted that the Spanish clergy could celebrate the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours on the feast and its octave with the texts used by the Franciscans rather than that in the Tridentine Roman Missal and Roman Breviary as revised by Pope Pius V, which did not attach the adjective "Immaculate" to the phrase "Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary".[24][25] On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the brief Dance of the Sixteen (Spanish: Los Seises) (the actual number of choirboys dancing has been reduced to twelve) is performed by choirboys dressed in white and blue in the Cathedral of Seville.[26] Since 1864, Mass vestments for the feast in Spain may be blue at the expressed permission with decree from the Sacred Congregation of Rites which thus became extended to the former territories of the Spanish crown and kingdom.[27] Many other Spanish cultural customs and religious processions are associated with the feast.

United States of America[edit]

 United States — A mosaic rendition of the Immaculate Conception of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez sent by Pope Pius XI in 1923, permanently enshrined at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Washington D.C.

On 13 May 1846, the United States bishops unanimously chose the Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as patroness of the country, a decision approved by Pope Pius IX on February 7 of the following year and published in a decree of 2 July 1847.[28]

On 10 April 1848, a voting process and discussion was made on the regularisation of the rubrics for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to be celebrated in that country. By 1849, this decree was published at the 7th Provincial Council of Baltimore.[29] The decrees were signed and witnessed by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni.[30]

On 8 July 1914, Pope Pius X sent an apostolic letter to Archbishop of Baltimore Cardinal James Gibbons approving the patronage of the Immaculate Conception for the new construction site of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

On 10 April 1919, Pope Benedict XV reiterated this patronage and stated that he had ordered a mosaic of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception to be made in the Vatican Mosaic Studio for the shrine's high altar.[31]

In 1923, Pope Pius XI chose a mosaic version of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción for installation at the shrine, the image is a mosaic rendition of the venerated Immaculate Conception enshrined at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. [32] now installed in the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States of America.

List of countries claiming Patronage but no Pontifical decree[edit]


On 7 December 1650, the Irish Catholic Confederation, on the verge of its final defeat by the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, declared the Virgin Mother of God, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the Kingdom of Ireland.

Information on this declaration, which was never formally adopted by the Church nor approved by any Papal decree, is given in a letter written six days later:

By a unanimous vote of the Supreme Assembly it was decreed that the Virgin Mother of God, under her title of her Immaculate Conception, should be solemnly and publicly proclaimed Patroness of the Kingdom of Ireland, and that as a perpetual memorial to the happy event, the feast of the Immaculate Conception should be solemnly observed in Ireland from that day forward until the end of time."[33][34][35]


 Nicaragua — In 1562, Don Lorenzo Ahumada, a brother of Saint Teresa of Avila, brought to Nicaragua this statue of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo. Pope John Paul II granted a Canonical coronation towards the venerated Marian image on 28 December 1989.

The Immaculate Conception is venerated as Patroness of the Nicaraguan people.

A letter of 1673 cites a document of 5 January 1626 according to which the statue was given by Saint Teresa of Avila to her brother, who brought it to where it now is and died there. Another document, drawn up in 1751 after a visit to the settlement of El Viejo, where the statue is kept, and citing the 1673 letter, states that the name "Nuestra Señora del Viejo" was a reference to Saint Teresa's brother, who was then an old man ("viejo" being Spanish for "old"). It describes the statue and its adornment, including a crown. A traditional story is that the statue was brought by an old hermit who, when the ship he was travelling on refused to leave the harbour, explained that the statue wished to remain there. A Carmelite report of 1786 recorded the tradition that the statue was a gift of Saint Teresa to her brother or uncle, who was governor of the locality, and that, when he attempted to take the statue with him when transferred to another governorship, storms repeatedly drove his ship back, so that he left the statue there.[36] Another source gives the name of Saint Teresa's brother as Don Lorenzo de Cepeda and repeats the story of the storm forcing him to leave the statue in what was then called Chamulpa and is now El Viejo.[37] The statue was ceremoniously crowned by the local townspeople in 1747.

Pope John Paul II issued the Papal bull for the Canonical coronation for the image on 28 December 1989, which was signed and executed by Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. On 7 February 1996, the same Pontiff visited the shrine on his second apostolic visit to Nicaragua. The same Pontiff raised the sanctuary of El Viejo to the status of Minor Basilica on 20 December 1995. [38]

On 7 October 1996, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua conferred the title "The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo"; and on 13 May 2001, the Episcopal Bishops' Conference of Nicaragua declared the Virgin Mary under this title be the National Patroness of the country.[39][40]

On 4 August 2012, Pope Benedict XVI sent the image a golden pearl rosary in recognition of the piety of the Nicaraguan people's. That same year, Nicaragua celebrated the 450th annual patronage of the Immaculate Conception with grand parades and national festivities.

A popular custom (especially among children) in Nicaragua during this time is to gather in a group and sing several Marian hymns in front of people's houses where a statue of the Immaculate Conception is enshrined. Similar to caroling songs during Christmas time, children receive special candies or sweet treats given by the household after the conclusion of singing Marian hymns.

In Leon, Nicaragua, the feast is begun by a special day of penitence conducted each December 6, when the faithful take part in publicly cleaning all the silver treasures and accessories donated to the statue.[41] The event is also celebrated with a tradition called Gritería or "Shouting" in honor of the Virgin Mary's conception and is composed of grand parades, fireworks, candlelight processions, songs and various religious activities related to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her maternal role in Roman Catholicism. Similar practices are observed in various other Catholic countries.


 Portugal — The shrine of the Immaculate Conception, consisting of Madonna and Child as Patroness of Portugal.

By royal decree under the House of Braganza, the Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of Portugal. An image of the Immaculate Conception venerated in the Shrine of Our Lady of Conception of Villa Vicosa was donated by Saint Nuno Álvares Pereira.

On 25 March 1646, King John IV of Portugal proclaimed Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the nation's patroness, so that 8 December is a special feast day in Portugal. Upon crowning the image since that time, the Portuguese monarchs of the House of Braganza renounced wearing a crown on their heads.

In addition, the king minted both gold and silver coins bearing his seal while on the other side bears the Immaculate Conception with the Latin phrase titled Tutelaris Regni.[42] In 1946, at the 300th anniversary of this royal declaration, the government of Portugal also released a postal stamp commemorating its patronage featuring the image of the Virgin Mary.

The first document invoking the Marian patronage is found the king's address to the National Royal Chambers dated 30 June 1654[43] and was next followed again in the Royal Provision of 1646.[44][45]

The statue's design is unlike most Immaculate Conception images, as the Virgin Mary carries a child Jesus rather than portrayed as being raised into Heaven.[46][47] On 6 February 1818, the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa was erected in the Virgin Mary's patronal honor by King John VI of Portugal.[48][49][50] The feast marks one of the four national holidays in the Portugal.[51]

See also[edit]


  • Le Franc, Martin. The Conception of Mary -- A Rhyming Translation of Book V of Le Champion des Dames by Martin Le Franc (1410-1461). Ed. and trans. Steven Millen Taylor. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.


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  2. ^ Acta Apostolica Sedis - 1931 - Page 7 - Beata Virgo Maria Immaculata Sub Titulo Apparecida - Principalis Patrona Brasiliae Constituitur. - "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)[1931]%20-%20ocr.pdf
  3. ^ ""Bellonet and Roze: Overzealous Servants of Empire and the 1866 French Attack on Korea" by Kane, Daniel C. - Korean Studies, Annual 1999 | Questia, Your Online Research Library". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  4. ^ True Doctrine in the Hermit Kingdom: A Brief Survey of the Catholic Church in Korea - Brother Zechariah Foreman, Order of Preachers, published May 4, 2004
  5. ^ Gheddo, Piero (2006-04-26). "SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA Both North and South consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin, says Bishop of Seoul - Asia News". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  6. ^ a b "Patron Saints: 'K' - Saints & Angels - Catholic Online". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  7. ^ a b "Mary's Touch : Special Issue 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  8. ^ "Act of entrustment of Korea to Mary, 6 May 1984". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  9. ^ "The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosay of Namyang". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  10. ^ "Dei praesidio fultus: Philippine Bullary I". Siniculus. 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  11. ^ a b "ANG MAHAL NA BIRHEN Mary in Philippine Life Today". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  12. ^ "Dei praesidio fultus: Liturgical blue". Siniculus. 2014-12-30. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  13. ^ Insularum Philippinarum Beatissima Virgo Maria Titulo Immaculata Conceptio Primaria Universalisque Patrona et Sanctae Virgines Pudentiana ac Rosa Limana Patronae Secundarias Declarantur - Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1942) [1] Pages 336-337
  14. ^ "Dei praesidio fultus: Protectresses of the Philippines". Siniculus. 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  15. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis 28 (1936), pp.63f. - 16 Iulii (July) 1935. Pius XI. Beatissima Virgo Maria Sub Titulo de Guadalupa Insularum Philippinarum Coelestis Patrona Declaratur - "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 3, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Our Lady of Guadalupe: and Saint Juan Diego, the Historical Evidence. by Eduardo Chavez, Rowman and Littlefield Publishing. 2006. p. XXX
  17. ^ "Still Stampin' (Darthphilatelist in Hyper Mode...): The Feast of the Immaculate Conception". 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  18. ^ "quin primarius Sancti Iacobi Apostoli dignoscatur patronus" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
  19. ^ "La Inmaculada Concepción de María. Su verdad y su actualidad". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  20. ^ "in universo Hispaniensi Regno, eiusque Orientalibus, Occidentalibusque Indiis" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
  21. ^ "Vix Carolus III sceptrum suscepit, ad Reginae Coelorum pedes confestim illud libentissime locavit, utque omnes Hispaniae incolae tanto firmarentur patrocinio, tantoque munirentur praesidio, Sanctissimam Virginem in Conceptionis Immaculatae ineffabili mysterio totius regni elegit Patronam; huic adimplendo scopo, anno 1760 celebratis Comitiis, et ad Summum Pontificem Clementem XIII evectis precibus, die 8 Novembris ipsiusmet anni Bullam: Quantum ornamenti, impetravit, in qua Virginem sub glorioso Conceptionis mysterio in universo Hispaniensi Regno, eiusque Orientalibus, Occidentalibusque Indiis Patronam venerari decrevit quin primarius Sancti Iacobi Apostoli dignoscatur Patronus, praecipiensque etiam Summus Pontifex ecclesiasticos cunctos tam saeculares, quam Regulares hoc festum cum ritu primae classis diligenter servare, ac plenariam Indulgentiam impertiens omnibus, et singulis, qui conditiones Litteris Apostolicis praescriptas explerent." Pareri sulla definizione dogmatica dell'Immacolato Concepimento della Beata Virgine Maria (Civiltà Cattolica 1851), pp. 128-129
  22. ^ Expositio Iuris Pontificii Iuxta Recentiorem Ecclesiae Disciplinam: In Duas ... - Ubaldo Giraldi - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  23. ^ De ortu et progressu cultus, ac festi Immaculati conceptus beatae Dei ... - Marcus Antonius Gravois - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  24. ^ "Insuper ab ipso Maximo Pontifice ecclesiasticos omnes Missam celebrare posse, et officium divinum persolvere dei festi et octavae sicut Francisci Minorum Ordo celebrabat et persolvebat, etiam obtinuit" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
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  26. ^ Archived from the original on July 12, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  28. ^ Sanctis Congregationis Generalis de Propaganda Fide Quo Deipara Virgo, Sine Labe Originali Concepta, Septentrionalis Americae Foederatae Provincialum Patrona Instituitur. PP 255-256 -
  29. ^ "Land Of Mary Immaculate". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Epistola Communes litteras, al Cardinale Giacomo Gibbons e al Cardinale Guglielmo O'Connel, di Benedetto XV, 10 aprile 1919". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
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  33. ^ "OCD - The Old Abbey Loughrea 1300 - 1650". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
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  35. ^ - Moran – Spicilegium Ossoriense 1, page 354. Die hujus Decembris, 1650, in generali Regni Assemblea, unio omnium Catholicorum, praeter et contra spem, acceptata et declarata est. Quod, quia in vigilia Immaculatae Conceptionis Beata Virgo factum est uno omnium voto acceptatum et decreto publico statutum est, ut Deipara Virgo sub Immaculatae Conceptionis titulo, esset Regni patrona, et dies ille tamquam solemnis et festus ad perpetuam rei memoriam toto regno deinceps perpetuo celebrabitur.
  36. ^ "Inmaculada del Viejo". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  37. ^ "Nuestra Seńora De La Concepción De El Viejo". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  38. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis, LXXXVIII (1996), p. 239
  39. ^ "¡La patrona está de fiesta!. La Prensa". 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  40. ^ "Historia de la Purísima Inmaculada Concepción de María". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  41. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  42. ^
  43. ^ Para que seja mais notória a obrigação que eu e todos meus vassalos temos de defender que a Virgem Senhora Nossa foi concebida sem pecado original, houve por bem resolver que em todas as portas e entradas das cidades, vilas e lugares de meus Reinos se ponha, em uma pedra lavrada, a inscrição de que será cópia esta carta: Encomendo-vos a façais pôr nas portas e lugares dessa cidade (ou vila) e me aviseis de como o tendes executado.
  44. ^ "Estando ora juntos em Cortes com os três Estados do Reino lhes fiz propor a obrigação que tínhamos de renovar e continuar esta promessa (de D. Afonso Henriques) e venerar com muito particular afecto e solenidade a festa de Sua Imaculada Conceição: E nelas com parecer de todos, assentámos de tomar por padroeira de Nossos Reinos e Senhorios a Santíssima Virgem Nossa Senhora da Conceição... e lhe ofereço de novo em meu nome e do Príncipe D. Teodósio meu sobre todos muito amado e prezado filho e de todos os meus descendentes, sucessores, Reinos, Senhorios e Vassalos à sua Santa Casa da Conceição sita em Vila Viçosa, por ser a primeira que houve em Espanha desta invocação, cinquenta escudos de ouro em cada um ano em sinal de Tributo e Vassalagem: E da mesma maneira prometemos e juramos com o Príncipe e Estados de confessar e defender sempre (até dar a vida sendo necessário) que a Virgem Maria Mãe de Deus foi concebida sem pecado original"
  45. ^ Santos de Cada Dia by Jose Leite, 1994. pp. 416-418
  46. ^ Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ "Actividades Heraldos". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  48. ^ Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ "Knighthood Bestowed". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  50. ^ "H. D. Cerqueira de Souza: Order of the Immaculate Conception". Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  51. ^ Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)