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Basilica of National Shrine of our lady of Aparecida, Brazil

Dwarka, Gujarat, India Saintly devoted to the Patroness of Brazil, Our Lady Conception of Aparecida – Nossa Senhora Aparecida.

Located in the Aparecida municipality in São Paulo state of Brazil, the Basilica of National Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida is an impressive Roman rite Catholic Basilica. It is considered to be the second largest and an important Roman Catholic Church in the world owing to its colossal size, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The Basilica is wonderfully dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida, a title of the blessed Virgin Mary, who was the principal Patroness of Brazil. In 1984, it was officially declared by the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) as "the largest Marian Temple in the world."

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History and Belief

In 1717, three fishermen were endeavoring to catch large number of fishes in the Paraiba River, in the Guaratinguetà town, for a feast to honor the visit of São Paulo Governor, Pedro de Almeida. Season not being that good for fishing, they prayed to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception for help, but still the day went by without any fish in the net. As a last attempt, fisherman Joao casted his net, wherein instead of fish the net caught a statue without the head. With another try, he caught hold of the head of the statue. They cleaned the statue that turned out to be Virgin Mary (black version of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception). They wrapped it in a cloth and continued fishing. Thereafter, their fortune grew enormously and they caught hold of myriad fishes, believed to be the first miracle of Our Lady of Aparecida.

It is believed that the fishermen couldn’t move the slender figure of the Aparecida Virgin as it became so heavy after they recovered the body and the head.  The fishermen named the statue Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida in Portuguese (English: Our Lady of the Appeared Conception). The status is less than 3 ft. and it is believed that it was made around 1650 and must have been under water for years as it lost its original polychromy.

The statue was with fisherman Filipe Pedroso for fifteen years. In 1735, a small chapel was built for the astounding statue on Coqueiros hills. With increase in popularity, in 1834, a small basilica was started to be built. Later in 1955, a “New Basilica”, even larger, was started to be built by Benedito Calixto. On 4th July 1980, Pope John Paul II consecrated the basilica under the name of Our Lady of Aparecida.


The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida is one of the largest buildings in Latin America. It was not built on any earlier small chapel, thus it doesn’t assimilate any historical features. Since the devotion to Our lady of Aparecida was becoming popular, thus a need for a larger space was perceived. Therefore a New Basilica was planned to be built nearby the existing small basilica. While the building was still under construction, the sanctuary was consecrated in 1980, although the image was transferred from the old Basilica to the new one on 3rd October 1982. The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida was completed in 1984 and was officially declared by the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil as "the largest Marian Temple in the world."

The specific area of Basilica of Aparecida consists of almost 72 thousand square meters and it includes:

    the lower and the ground floors,
    the Arcade,
    the South Gallery,
    the Central Dome,
    The Chapels of Resurrection and Baptism,
    the Brasilia Tower.

Inside the Basilica, on the ground floor, remains the Niche of the Miraculous Image of the Patroness of Brazil, exhibited from a 37 meters high retable. The floor is 25 thousand square meters where Eucharistic Celebrations are held with a gathering of up to 30 thousand people around the Central Altar. During the outdoor celebrations, the capacity is up to 300 thousand people.

The Basilica is an epitome of Romanesque Revival style and forms a Greek cross with arms which are 617 ft. long and 600 ft. broad. The image of the Virgin of Aparecida is 15 inches tall and made up of clay. It is dark brown in color and is also known as the “black Mary”. The dome is 230 ft. high and the tower reaches a height of 335 ft., making it the second largest church in the world. The Basilica has 190,000 sq. ft. space which can easily accommodate 45,000 worshippers at a time. The number can easily go up to 70,000 worshippers on special occasions. The elevation of the basilica is 1867 ft. high.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida witnesses as many as 12 million tourists annually. In order to welcome and manage such a huge crowd, the National Shrine provides its devotees with an area of more than 1.3 million square meters. The grounds contain a shopping mall, medical clinic, restaurants and a 2,930,000 sq. ft. parking lot that can hold 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.

The very feel of the Basilica is new and modern, with subtle and stylish interiors. It is a very peaceful and cool place, with activities on going throughout the day.

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5 interesting Facts & Myths about Basilica of National Shrine of our lady of Aparecida, Brazil

  • 1. In May 1978, an intruder stole the clay statue from its shrine and broke it into pieces, and again in 1995, a Protestant minister slandered and vandalized a copy of the statue on Brazilian national television.

  • 2. In 1904, to commemorate the 50th anniversary, the statue of Our Lady Aparecida was crowned by the archbishop of São Paulo, Dom Lino Deodato Rodrigues.

  • 3. The "Papal Coronation" of the image of Aparecida was a major event attended by a vast concourse of the people and also the then President of the Republic, Rodrigues Alves.

  • 4. On May 16, 1978, a Protestant took the statue from the Basilica after the last Mass of the day. The statue fell to the ground breaking to pieces. A group of dedicated artists and artisans carefully pieced it together again.

  • 5. Over the centuries, the statue of Mary has been refurbished, adorned in gold-trimmed robes, and topped off with a crown. 

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Daily programs

Masses take place every day of the week, the timing for the same as:

             Mondays to Saturdays: 7 am, 7:30 am, 8 am, 8:30 am, 12:10 pm, 5:15 pm.

             Sundays: 5:15 pm (Vigil), 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12 noon (choir), 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.

Holy Days of Obligation takes place at varying days at 5:15 pm, 7 am, 7:30 am, 8 am, 8:30 am, 10 am, 12 noon and 5:15 pm.

For detailed scheduled, please refer to the following link:


Special programs

12th October is celebrated as Roman rite feast day or the National holiday in Brazil. It was on this day that the foundation of the Empire of Brazil was laid in 1822 and is regarded in Brazilian culture as Children's day.
The Cloak Ceremony is a 40 to 50 minute celebration which takes place once a month, in the Chapel of the Apostles – a reserved chapel, and is monthly transmitted by Aparecida TV Channel every 12th day.


How to travel

  • Via Air: International airport- São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport

              Domestic Airport- São José dos Campos-Professor Urbano Ernesto Stumpf Airport

  • Via Metro: Estação Ferroviária de Aparecida is the closest station which is a kilometer away.
  • Via road: It can be reached in about 2 hours from São Paulo and 3 hours from Rio de Janeiro.

Lots of hotels and restaurants are easily accessible from the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida, with few vegan meal options.

Aparecida is located 168 km northeast of São Paulo and 240 km west of Rio de Janeiro, and can be visited at any time of the year.


Mon-Fri: 6:30 AM–7:30 PM

Sat: 6:00 AM–9:30 PM

Sun: 5:00 AM–7:30 PM

Travel Tips

  • There is no specific dress code at this Basilica, but it is preferred to keep it decent and respectful, since it’s a religious place to worship.
  • The Basilica of National shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is a renowned traveler’s hotspot that can be visited by all genres of the society.

See Basilica of National Shrine of our lady of Aparecida, Brazil on map

Nearby Attraction

  • Matriz Basilica Nossa Senhora Aparecida: It is the old Basilica of our Lady of Aparecida which is small but charming and said to be equally beautiful as the new Basilica.
  • Itatiaia National Park: It is the oldest national park in Brazil, located on the border between Rio de Janerio and Minas Gerais.
  • Pico das Agulhas Negras: It is the fifth highest mountain in Brazil, which is on the border of the states of Rio de Janerio and Minas Gerais.
  • Angra Nuclear Power Plant: It is Brazil’s sole nuclear plant, located on the Itaorna beach, in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.
  • Nave Espacial de Varginha: It is a 20 metres tall water tower with a disc shape reservoir in Varginha, Brazil.

Additional Information

  • First impressions were that it was Catholic Disneyland: you are greeted by a fun fair, a visitor centre, an aquarium, children’s rides and inflated prices for everything from ice cream to the plethora of tacky statuette replicas, crucifixes and other Catholic novelties.
  • A Cloack is granted Blessings and afterwards it is cut into small pieces and given to the devotees participating in the Devotees Campaign. Nowadays, the Devotees Campaign is responsible for the continuation of the whole Sanctuary maintenance services and the social works.
  • Projected to provide our visitors with convenience, cozy welcoming and leisure, it counts on a Food Plaza and 380 stores, besides the baby changing facilities, withdrawing machines, amusement parks etc. The infrastructure also counts on the Aparecida Aquarium. Located on the East Wing. The visitors may enjoy several tanks with sea species, fresh water fish and a pool with sharks.
  • The National Sanctuary Religious Touristic Complex houses other important sacred areas: Cruzeiro Hill, where millions of devotees perform the Way to the Cross, Itaguassu Harbor, where the Image of Our Lady – Nossa Senhora Aparecida Aparecida was found, in 1717 and the Mother Church or Old Basilica, historical religious monument under restoration, and a 7 thousand square meters Permanent Crib, where scenes of the main moments of Jesus’ Childhood are portrayed.
  • The Sumptuous Footbridge, which links the Sanctuary to the Mother Church, is 392.2 meters length, and its highest part is 35.52 meters high above the ground. Cable cars connect the Basilica to Cruzeiro Hill throughout 1.100 meters.
  • The light inside the cathedral is beautiful, cause of the big colourful glass windows.
  • First, the body appeared, then the head, then the head was joined to the body: unity. What had been broken is restored and becomes one. Colonial Brazil had been divided by the shameful wall of slavery. Our Lady of Aparecida appears with a black face, first separated, and then united in the hands of the fishermen.
  • Aparecida took place at a crossroads. The road which linked Rio, the capital, with São Paulo, the resourceful province then being born, and Minas Gerais, the mines coveted by the courts of Europe, was a major intersection in colonial Brazil. God appears at the crossroads.
  • Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Shrine of Aparecida 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.
  • In 2007, when Pope Benedict XVI visited, he gave the Basilica the Golden Rose. Another special visitor to Aparecida was Pope Francis in 2014, during his visit for World Youth Day in Brazil.
  • St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is the largest and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast has been mentioned as the second largest but consists mostly of empty, unused space.






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