11th May : Our Lady Of Aparecida

Our Lady Of Aparecida

Country : Brazil

Year : 1717

One morning in 1717, three fishermen in Brazil poled their boat into the Parahyba River which flowed along the outskirts of their village.  Their luck was bad – for hours they cast their nets but caught no fish.  They decided to quit; then for some reason, they wanted to make one more try.  Alves threw out his net and slowly pulled it in.  There was something in it – not a fish, but something that looked like a chunk of wood.   When he lifted it from the net, it turned out to be a headless statue of the Blessed Virgin.

He cast his net again.  This time it held a roundish piece of wood – the head of the statue.  He picked up both pieces and found that they fitted perfectly together.

Obeying an impulse, Alves lowered his net once more.  He could hardly lift it, because it was bulging with fish.  His companions threw out their nets and they had the same luck.  A few more casts and their boat was filled with fish.

The next day they fastened the head to the body of the statue, cleaned it, and one of them set it up in his humble dwelling.  The story spread and every evening people came to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin.  They gave it the name Aparecida, “She who appeared.”  Soon a little chapel was erected – the crowds were too big for the humble cottage; then a larger chapel was built.  Our Lady well repaid those who honored her, for numerous cures and even extraordinary miracles took place at her shrine.

In 1846, work began on the construction of a new church, completed in 1888, and the statue was transferred to it.  In 1904, by order of the Holy Father, the image was solemnly crowned.  In 1909 the church was raised to a minor basilica; in 1930 Pope Pius XI promoted it to a Basilica and officially declared Our Lady of Aparecida the Patroness of Brazil.

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