Monday, October 13, 2008

October 12th 2008 - Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida

The History of the Image of The Appeared Immaculate Conception "Aparecida"

In October of 1717, three Brazilian fishermen were out fishing, in order to supply a banquet the townspeople of Guaratinguetá were giving in honor of a visiting nobleman. Since it was outside the season for finding fish, they prayed to the Immaculate Conception for help. After many hours of coming up empty, the fishermen were about to give up. They cast in their net one last time and brought up the body of a terra cotta statue. Casting their net again, they brought up the head. They cleaned the statue, which turned out to be an image of the Immaculate Conception. Naming the statue "Our Lady Aparecida" (Our Lady who appeared), the fisherman wrapped it in cloth and cast their nets again. This time, they caught so many fish their boat was in danger of sinking. The statue came to be associated with many miracles brought about by the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and was an object of veneration. A prayer chapel was built; when that became too small, a church was built on the hill of the Coqueiros, around which a village sprang up. When the crowds outgrew that church, a new and bigger one was built; it was given the title of minor basilica in 1908. An even bigger basilica was begun in the 1950s; today, it is the second largest place of Catholic worship in the world, after St. Peter's, and the largest Marian shrine. Our Lady of Aparecida is the patroness of Brazil.

Pope John Paul II's Prayer to Our Lady of Aparecida

Lady Aparecida, a son of yours who belongs to you unreservedly "totus tuus" called by the mysterious plan of Providence to be the Vicar of your Son on earth, wishes to address you at this moment. He recalls with emotion, because of the brown color of this image of yours, another image of yours, the Black Virgin of Jasna Gora. Mother of God and our Mother, protect the Church, the Pope, the bishops, the priests and all the faithful people; welcome under your protecting mantle men and women religious, families, children, young people, and their educations. Health of the sick and Consoler of the afflicted, comfort those who are suffering in body and soul; be the light of those who are seeking Christ, the Redeemer of all; show all people that you are the Mother of our confidence. Queen of Peace and Mirror of Justice, obtain peace for the world, ensure that Brazil and all countries may have lasting peace, that we will always live together as brothers and sisters and as children of God. Our Lady Aparecida, bless all your sons and daughters who pray and sing to you here and elsewhere. Amen.

The town of Aparecida, Brazil, houses two Basilicas dedicated to the National Patron Saint, the "Appeared Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary", better known as Our Lady of Aparecida: the "Old Basilica", built between 1760 and 1770 and restored from 1824 to 1834, which was established as a Minor Basilica by Pope Saint Pius X in 1908, and the "New Basilica".

This much larger building became necessary due to the popularity of Our Lady of Aparecida, and in 1955 construction on this new Basilica started. Architect Benedito Calixto designed a building in the form of a Greek cross, 173 m (567 ft) long and 168 m (551 ft) wide; the dome reaches 70 m (229 ft) and the steeple rises to 105 m (334 ft), placing it also among the largest and biggest churches in the world, holding up to 45,000 people. The 272,000 square meters of parking hold 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.

The building was consecrated by Pope John Paul II while still under construction, on July 4, 1980.[1] The Pope created the church as a Minor Basilica and named it the National Shrine of Brazil.

The New Basilica is now the second-largest Catholic place of worship in the world, after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, and in 1984 was officially declared as "the largest Marian Temple in the world." According to the official site of the basilica, in 1999 the number of pilgrims was 6,565,849.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Shrine ofAparecida on May 12, 2007, during his Apostolic Journey to Brazil on the occasion of the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.[2]

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