Today is the Nossa Senhora de Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida also known as our Lady who appeared) Holiday in Brazil.
As you know Brazil is the largest Roman Catholic Country in the World. There is an account as to how this holiday came in to being. What makes this really cool is that it all happened only about an hour drive from where we live in Brazil in a city known as Aparecida.
This is how the story goes according to sources…
In October of 1717, Dom Pedro de Almedida, Count of Assumar, was on his way to the state of Minas Gerais from Sao Paulo. He would have to pass by Guarantinqueta, a small city in the Paraiba river valley. The people of Guarantinqueta decided to hold a great feast to honor the Count, and a lot of fish would be needed. Among the fishermen were three men who always prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception — Domingos Garcia, Joco Alves, and Felipe Pedroso. Before going out to fish, they asked God to help then in this difficult task, to find enough fish at this time when no fish were available. Felipe knelt and prayed, along with his companions, “Mother of God and our Mother, we need to find fish!” After many hours of catching nothing, the fishermen were very depressed. Joco cast his net once more near the Port of Itaguagu, but instead of fish, he hauled in the body of a statue. The three cast their net again, and brought up the statue’s head. After cleaning the statue they found that it was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Naming their find Our Lady Aparecida, they wrapped it in cloth and continued to fish; now their nets were full. They very carefully washed the statue and saw that it was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. They wrapped her in some cloths and continued to fish. This was the first miracle of Our Lady of Aparecida. Felipe Pedroso, partner of Joao Alves, took the statue to his house and started the veneration of Our Lady with his family and neighbours. In 1732, he moved to Porto Itaguassu and took the statue to its first shrine, which was built by his son Atanasio. Travelers spread out the fame of Our Lady Aparecida and the pilgrims started to come. The people decided to build a bigger church in the top of a hill near Porto Itaguassu to shelter the statue. The church was opened in 1745 when the statue was brought in from its former site and the village of Aparecida was born, as a district of Guaratingueta.
The city of Aparecida is yearly visited by more than 5 million pilgrims. Our Lady Aparecida is in the heart of every Brazilian. Many people are named Aparecida or Aparecido, alone or combined with Maria, Jose and other names. The name is also part of the Brazilian colloquial vocabulary, as an exclamation of surprise.
Well I am not Catholic, and not a worshiper of Our Lady Aparecida. I am a Christian ( a Christ- follower). I do however, find this interesting because it is a National Holiday in Brazil and so much a part of Brazilian culture. And just because we only live an hour from the area, we decided to go and get some pictures of this very important town in Brazilian culture. ( Actually if you remember, I first saw this city on our first trip to Sao Paulo to pick up James and said I would like to go back)
Aparecida is a Brazilian city in the state of Sao Paulo. It is located in the fertile valley of the River Pariba do Sol. It is home to and named after the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil, declared so by Pope Pius XI in 1929. Pope Benedict XVI delivered a speech here in May, 2007. Aparecida depends exclusively on tourism generated by the devotees of the statue of the Virgin, and Aparecida receives more than 7 million tourists a year making it the most popular religious pilgrimage site in Latin America.
Here are some pics from our visit…
Happy Nossa Senhora de Aparecida Holiday! Actually, I am just happy it is a holiday so David is off work because this morning we are off to Rio to catch a flight to Salvador, Bahia for the weekend! Stay tuned for details about our weekend!