Lady of Aparecida takes place on October 12 every year. It honors the Mother of Brazil and the country’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora Aparecida, one of the many faces of the Virgin Mary. Every year, thousands of believers congregate in a city that bears her name to pray, seek forgiveness, and make a request or two. Her first-known appearance stunned many — a black statue caught in a fisherman’s net after they asked the heavens above for a good catch. She appears quietly in unlikely places to lend a helping hand to those in need.
History of Lady of Aparecida
Who is our Lady of Aparecida, and why does Brazil revere her so? The story begins in 1717 with a group of fishermen in Guaratinguetá. The legendary Dom Pedro de Almeida was passing by, and everyone was in a festive mood. Although it wasn’t an ideal time for fishing, the city’s fishermen cast their nets in the Paraiba River, hoping for a good catch. After several unsuccessful attempts, the weary fishermen asked Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception to intervene. Legend has it that a statue of the Virgin got caught in the net, but its appearance was not the one commonly associated with her since it had no head and was dark-skinned, most likely because it was made from terracotta and was blackened by the river. When they cast the net again, they caught the head of the statue. Immediately after, they caught so much fish that their boats almost sank. The encounter with the fishermen is the first-known miracle attributed to Our Lady of Aparecida.
She performed another miracle for a defenseless, enslaved Brazilian. A man named Zacarias fled the cruelty of his landowners, but authorities quickly found and arrested him. On their way back, the group passed by a chapel built in honor of Nossa Senhora Aparecida. Zacharias asked to pray, and soon after, his chains miraculously broke free. Faced with a divine miracle, the guards had no choice but to set him free.
Because of her lessons in true love, honoring life, and enjoying freedom, Nossa Senhora Aparecida is also known as the Black Mother. As stories of the Virgin traveled far and wide, the number of people asking to visit and pray to her grew by the thousands. It was imperative to move her to a private chapel. Thus, construction began in 1834. By 1888 she found a new home in the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida.
Lady of Aparecida timeline
Our Lady of Aparecida first appears to fishermen in their time of need.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida finishes its construction.
Pope Pius XI proclaims her Patroness of Brazil on July 16.
The church begins constructing a new basilica to accommodate the staggering number of pilgrims.
Lady of Aparecida FAQs
What is the largest church in Brazil?
The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida is the world’s second-largest church.
What is the biggest church in the world?
It’s the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Why is Mary called the Black Madonna?
The Black Madonna refers to paintings or sculptures that depict an infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary as black and not Caucasian. They can be found both in Catholic and Orthodox nations.
How to Observe Lady of Aparecida
Join hundreds of believers at the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida. Many people in Brazil go for a religious pilgrimage during this time.
Make a wish
Pray to Nossa Senhora Aparecida and let them know what you need. Brazilians usually tie ribbons in the church to symbolize wishes or miracles they hope she will perform.
Count your blessings
Appreciate what already is, along with what could be. True abundance lies in family, friends, a clear conscience, and honest living.
5 Facts About Catholic Faith In Brazil
It’s very religious
Brazil remains the largest Roman Catholic country in the world.
Religious education is typical
The Society of Jesus founded the first schools in the country, wanting to evangelize Native Brazilians.
It has a lot of churches
There are a total of 275 particular churches throughout Brazil.
Universities are Catholic as well
There are more than 30 Catholic universities within the national territory.
It has a lot of Saints
Brazil has more than a million Latter-day Saints.
Why Lady of Aparecida is Important
Because some things are best left unexplained
Miracles remind us of something bigger than ourselves. Our Lady of Aparecida instills a lost sense of wonder in a fast-changing world.
It sparks new thinking
Nossa Senhora Aparecida is the Black Mother. She redefines traditional depictions of Mary in western art and shows that there is space for everyone in the world of faith.
A symbol of hope
She speaks to the core of what religion should be – inclusion and solace. Brazilians consider her “The Mother Of All,” who looks after her children equally.
Lady of Aparecida dates