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 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.