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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:
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.
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.
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.
For detailed scheduled, please refer to the following link:
Domestic Airport- São José dos Campos-Professor Urbano Ernesto Stumpf Airport
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