Our Lady of Aparecida (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida) is a celebrated 18th-century clay statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the traditional form of the Immaculate Conception. The image is widely venerated by Brazilian Roman Catholics, who consider her as the principal patroness of Brazil. Pious accounts claim that the statue was originally found by fishermen, who miraculously caught many fishes after invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The dark statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, Aparecida, São Paulo. The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil celebrates her feast day every October 12. Since the basilica’s consecration 1980 by Pope John Paul II, it has also been a public holiday in Brazil. The Basilica is the fourth most popular Marian shrine in the world, being able to hold up to 45,000 worshippers.
The image has merited the Papal sanction of Pope Pius XI in 1929 by declaring her shrine as a minor Basilica, and by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980, who reiterated the patronage of Brazil under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
The statue has also merited worldwide controversy in May 1978, when a Protestant intruder stole the clay statue from its shrine and broke it into pieces, and another in 1995, when a Protestant minister slandered and vandalized a copy of the statue in national Brazilian television.
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