Nossa Senhora Da Aparecida

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Nossa Senhora Da Aparecida

Nossa Senhora Da Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida), the Virgin of Conception, is the patron saint of Brazil. She first appeared in 1717 as a terra-cotta image in the net of three poor fishermen in the Paraíba River between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The 15-inch image is said to have miraculously provided large catches to supply the table for visiting Dom Pedro Miguel, then governor of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. A chapel built in 1745 was replaced by a church in 1852 and by a larger edifice in 1888. Pope Pius XI proclaimed Aparecida the patron saint of Brazil in 1930. Today, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims annually visit the Basilica of Aparecida in São Paulo, especially in May, October, and December.

Rubem César Fernandes views Aparecida as a weak national symbol for two major reasons. The first is Brazil's strong regionalism, based on geographic and historical differences. Other religious figures, such as Padre Cícero in the northeast and Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Salvador, are evidence of this regionalism. Aparecida is recognized as the principal religious shrine in the south-central region, comprised by the states São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, whose importance in national politics may help explain why Aparecida was chosen as the national patron saint. The second reason Aparecida is considered a weak national figure is because the clergy and the majority of the faithful worship her in different ways. The pilgrims see themselves as depending on her protection in exchange for a promise, while the clergy views her more as a mediator and in terms of sacred mysteries.

See alsoCatholic Church: The Colonial Period .


Luís Da Câmara Cascudo, Dicioná rio do folclore brasileiro, 2d ed. (1962), pp. 56-57.

Rubem César Fernandes, "Aparecida: Nossa rainha, senhora e mãe, saravá!" in Viola Sachs et al., Brasil & EUA: Religião e identidade nacional (1988), pp. 85-111.

Additional Bibliography

Brustolini, Júlio. A Senhora da Conceição Aparecida: História da imagem, da Capela, das romarias. Aparecida: Editora Santuário, 1981.

Macca, Marcelo, and Andréa Vilela de Almeida. Nossa Senhora Aparecida: Padroeira do Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Planeta do Brasil, 2003.

                                       Esther J. Pressel