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Saint of the Day for October 12: Our Lady Of Aparecida

Our Lady Of Aparecida, the story: at dawn on October 12, 1717, three Brazilian fishermen pushed their boat into the waters of the Paraiba River that flowed by their village

They had been assigned to provide fish for the banquet to be held the next day in the village of Guaratinguetà on the occasion of the visit of the Count of Assumar, Don Pedro of Almeida Portugal, governor of the province of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, on his way to Villa Rica.

Domingos Garcia, Felipe Pedroso and Joao Alves – these were the names of the three fishermen – did not seem to have any luck that morning: for hours they cast their nets, catching nothing.

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They had almost decided to give up, when Joao Alves wanted to give it one last try.

He therefore threw his net into the waters of the river and slowly pulled it up.

There was something there, but it was not a fish-it looked more like a piece of wood.

When he freed it from the mesh of the net, the piece of wood turned out to be a statue of the Virgin Mary, unfortunately missing its head.

Our Lady Of Aparecida, the miraculous catch

Joao threw the net into the water again and this time, when he pulled it back up, he found entangled in it another rounded piece of wood that looked exactly like the head of the same statue: he tried to put the two pieces together and found that they matched perfectly.

As if obeying an impulse, Joao Alves threw the net back into the water, and when he tried to pull it up, he found that he could not, because it was full of fish.

His companions threw their nets into the water in turn and the fishing that day was truly plentiful.

Popular veneration

The next day the three fishermen fastened the two pieces of the statue together, cleaned it of the river debris, and Felipe Pedroso placed it in his humble hut.

Within a short time, news of the miraculous catch spread to neighboring villages, and every evening a growing group of humble fishermen began to come to pay homage to the statue of the Virgin Mary and pray the rosary.

They gave her the name “Aparecida,” meaning “She appeared.”

In time the crowd became so large that it could not be contained in the fisherman’s hut.

For this reason a first chapel was erected and then, in 1737, an even larger one.

There are many accounts of graces and miracles that took place in that shrine.

The new church

In 1834 construction began on a new church that was completed in 1888, and the statue was moved there.

In 1904 the statue was crowned by order of Pope Pius X.

In 1909 the church was elevated to a minor basilica, and in 1930 Pius XI promoted it to a basilica, declaring Our Lady of Aparecida patroness of Brazil.

The first pope at the Shrine of Aparecida

It was John Paul II, in July 1980, who was the first pope to visit the Shrine of Aparecida; during his apostolic pilgrimage, he said, “What did the ancient pilgrims seek? What are today’s pilgrims looking for? Precisely what they were looking for on the day, more or less remote, of baptism: faith and the means to nourish it.

They seek the sacraments of the Church, especially reconciliation with God and Eucharistic nourishment.

And they leave again fortified and grateful to the Lady, Mother of God and ours.”

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