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Our Lady Aparecida - History

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Images of this page: the National Sanctuary.

statue of Our Lady

In 1717, the Governor of São Paulo announced that he would pay a visit to the city of Guaratinguetá. Three fishermen, Domingos Garcia, Filipe Pedroso and João Alves, were told to catch some fish to serve the Governor.
They paddled along river Paraíba, but couldn't catch anything; after fruitless hours, they reached Porto Itaguaçu. There, João Alves casted his net; when he pulled it back, he saw that he had caught a small statue of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of Conception), without the head; he casted the net again, and this time he found the head. From that moment on, the fishermen could catch plenty of fish.

statue of Our Lady

For the following fifteen years, the image was guarded by Filipe Cardoso, at his home. People of the neighbourhood gathered in the house, for praying. Many people claimed to have their wishes fulfilled after praying to the image.
The news about the miraculous powers of the Saint spread quickly. The family built an oratorium, which soon became too small.
In 1734, the priest of Guaratinguetá started building a small chapel, at the top of Morro dos Coqueiros (Hill of Palm trees); this chapel was opened to the public on July 26th 1745. The village formed around this chapel was the origin of the city of Aparecida.

old Basilica

In 1834, the chapel had also become small, and a new church was started (photo). This church would be the Old Basilica of Aparecida.
In 1894, the Vatican sent to Aparecida a group of priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Redeemers Missioners, to assist the pilgrims who came to pray at the feet of Our Lady who had "appeared" from the waters.
On September 8th 1904, the Image of Our Lady Aparecida was crowned by the Bishop José de Camargo Barros.
On April 29th 1908, the church gained the status of Basílica Menor (Minor Basilica).
On December 17th 1928, Aparecida was elevated to the status of municipality.

In 1929, Pope Pius XI proclaimed Our Lady Aparecida as Queen of Brazil and Official Patron Saint.

The number of pilgrims kept growing, and, again, the Minor Basilica was becoming too small.
In 1955, by initiative of the Redeemers and the Bishops of Brazil, a new Basilica started to be built.
In 1980, the new Basilica was still in construction. It was visited and dedicated by Pope John Paul II.
The new Basilica was finished in 1984, and was declared by the Confederation of Brazilian Bishops as the Sanctuary of Brazil.

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