By Mr Yukio – Wikimedia

Top 10 Facts about the basilica of the national shrine of our lady of Aparecida


The Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida is in Brazil. It is a prominent Roman Catholic basilica in Aparecida municipality in the state of Sao Paulo.

This basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida who is the principal Patroness of Brazil. It is not only the largest cathedral and but also the second-largest Catholic church in the world. The inner area of this basilica comes second after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.

Aparecida is the traditional name of the Immaculate Conception that was given to this clay statue. The image of Our Lady of Aparecida is highly respected by Catholics in Brazil.

The basilica was declared the largest Marian temple in the world in 1984. This declaration was made by the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.

Here are the top 10 facts about the basilica of the national shrine of our Lady of Aparecida.

1. The statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was found by fishermen

Photograph by Mike Peel – Wikimedia

Back in the 18th century, three fishermen embarked on their daily fishing business in Paraiba river. They hoped for a great catch for a feast to honour the visit of São Paulo Governor, Pedro de Almeida.

Since it was not a fishing season, the three fishermen prayed to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception for help. They were not lucky to catch any fish.

When they were about to give up, one of the fishermen, Joao, cast his net into the river.

He felt a tug and on pulling out the net, he saw s statue without ahead. On casting the net again, he caught the head of the statue.

They cleaned the statue which turned out to be a black version of the Virgin Mary. After cleaning the statue and wrapping it in a piece of cloth, they went back to fishing.

That day, they caught the biggest number of fish which they believed was a miracle from Our Lady of Aparecida.

2. An old wooden Basilica was built on the site where the statute as found

In 1735, a small chapel was built for the statue on Coqueiros hills. It soon drew attention and pilgrims flocked to the chapel.

This led to the need for more space to accommodate those that came to worship. In 1834, a small basilica was built in the colonial style.

A much larger basilica was built in 1955 by Benedito Calixto. This basilica was consecrated by Pope John Paul II under the name of Our Lady of Aparecida.

The site where the basilica is located where the statue of the Virgin Mary was found. This statue is believed to have been done by Father Agostino de Jesus, a monk who resided in São Paulo.

3. The statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was first housed by a fisherman

The statue now found in the shrine of our lady of Aparecida was first housed at the home of Felipe Pedroso. He was one of the fishermen who found the statue.

His home became popular with visitors and pilgrims who went to pray to the statue. This made him and his family build a small chapel to house the statue.

A larger chapel was later built due to the increased popularity of the statue. The new basilica that was built in 1955 has enough space to hold more than 30,000 people.

4. The Basilica of the national shrine of our Lady of Aparecida is the largest in Latin America

By Valter Campanato – Wikimedia

The Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida is one of the largest buildings in Latin America. It comes second after St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican.

Since it was built separately from the old chapel, the new shrine has no architectural similarity with the old chapel.

Pope John Paul II consecrated the basilica in 1980 while it was still under construction. It was completed in 1984 and was declared the largest Marian Temple in the world.

5. Benedicto Calixto designed the new basilica

Architect Benedito Calixto Neto was contracted to design the new basilica. Construction work began in 1955.

He ensured that the basilica represented the Romanesque revival style. The building looks like a Greek Cross with its length being 617 feet and the width being 600 feet.

The floor space of the basilica is 250,000 square feet with the main church accommodating 30,000 people.

There are shopping mall, medical clinic, restaurants and a parking lot that can hold 10,000 vehicles.

6. There was an attempt to steal the statue

By © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro – Wikimedia

An intruder attempted to steal the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida in 1978. Unfortunately for him, the statue made of clay slipped and broke to pieces when he was caught.

Another incident happened in 1995 when a protestant minister slandered and vandalized a replica of the statue on national television.

7. Millions of tourists visit the Basilica each year

Photograph by Mike Peel – Wikimedia

More than 12 million tourists visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida every year. There is an area set aside for the tourists of about 1.3 million square metres.

Notable people like Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Shrine of Aparecida on 12 May 2007. Pope Francis visited the basilica in 2013 during the World Youth Day celebration.

This basilica is the main pilgrimage centre for the Catholic Church in Brazil. It is also the official Bishop Church after it was recognized by the Vatican in 2016.

8. The basilica is a representation of Romanesque architecture

By Valter Campanato – Wikimedia

This basilica is the essence of Romanesque Revival style that forms a Greek cross. The image of the Virgin of Aparecida is 15 inches tall and made up of clay. It is also known as black Mary because of its dark brown colour.

The dome of the basilica is 230 feet high with its tower being 335 feet tall. This architecture gives the basilica a new and modern feel with subtle and stylish interiors.

It is a very peaceful place that is always abuzz with daily activities. During outdoor celebrations, there can be up to 300 thousand people present.

9. The statue broke into pieces

During a theft attempt, the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida fell and broke to pieces. This is because the statue is made of dark brown clay.

Luckily, a group of talented artists and artisans came together to salvage the situation. They expertly pieced the statue together such that one cannot tell it was ever fixed.

Over time, the statue of Virgin Mary has been restored and is adorned in gold-trimmed robes with a crown.

10. The basilica has received the Golden Rose three times

Photograph by Mike Peel – Wikimedia

The statue of Virgin Mary was proclaimed the patron saint of Brazil in 1930.  When Pope John Paul VI visited the basilica in 1967 during the 250th anniversary of Virgin Mary’s appearance he gave the basilica its first golden rose.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI gave the basilica a golden rose during his visit. The third golden rose was given by Pope Francis, on 9 October 2017, during the 300th anniversary of the appearance of the image.