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Our Lady of Aparecida

Our Lady of Aparecida, Marian Postcard collection, ML.006 Box 3, circa 1900 - 2018. Marian Library, University of Dayton Libraries, Dayton, Ohio.



One day in 1717, in the small city Guarantinqueta over by the Paraiba River, a fisherman cast his net near the Port of Itaguagu and to his surprise the net held a statue of the body of a headless statue. Lately the fishermen of the region were having bad luck with their fishing, so they had been praying to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in hopes God would grant a good catch. Subsequently, two fishermen cast the net again and adding to their surprise, the bring up the statue’s head, along with some fish. These fishermen were out fishing to find food to hold a feast in honour of Dom Pedro de Almeida, Count of Assumar and Governor of the Province of Sao Paulo, and Minas Gerais, who was passing by the small town of Guarantinqueta in a trip to a gold mining site. After cleaning the sculpture, it was discovered that it was a black statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. 

Legend has it that when the body of the Blessed Mother appeared, along with its head, the statue became so heavy that the fishermen could not budge it. After finding the full statue, future casts produced full nets of fish, hence the fisherman decided to name the statue Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida (Our Lady of the Appeared Conception). Neighbors caught wind of this great news, and the follower base of Our Lady of the Appeared Conception began to grow, with many beginning to visit the small city to venerate the statue. As devotion for the image grew, its first chapel was built in 1737.  This statue began receiving more attention not only because of the miracles people were reporting being granted when venerating Nossa Senhora Aparecida, but also on account of the Afro-Brazilian community's identification with the black Madonna. As followers of Our Lady of the Appeared Conception kept dramatically increasing, a bigger chapel, named New Basilica, began construction in 1834; the old Basilica was the one constructed in 1737. Before the opening of the “New Basilica” in 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaims Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Apparecida, the principal patroness of Brazil in 1930, and approves the devotion of her image.

Her image has been a source of religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, especially those from Pentecostalism, due to the Catholic Marian devotion associated with it. On May 16,1978 a Protestant stole the statue from its niche in the Basilica after the last mass of the day. He was chased down and when caught, the statue fell and broke into pieces; later, a group of artisans and artists were able to piece them back together. On October 12th ,1995, Our Lady of the Appeared Conception’s feast day, Sergio Von Helder, a televangelist from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), kicked and insulted a replica of Our Lady of the Appeared Conception in a late-night broadcast by UCKG television. He said something along the lines of “It [referring to our Blessed Mother] could not do anything for you”; the following day the incident was denounced nationwide. This event was seen as major act of religious intolerance, and Von Helder was then transferred to South Africa causing an end to the controversy.

Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe: Tradition and Transformation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007. Print.

Santoro, Nicholas J. Mary in Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place in Marian Devotion. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2011. Print.

Popular Devotions

Her feast day is October 12th, but is also seen celebrated on September 8, May 11 and December. Another popular devotion is reciting this hail Mary 3 consecutive days; if it’s about a dire situation, recite this hail Mary for 3 hours:

Querida Madre Nuestra Señora Aparecida, tú que nos amas y nos guías todos los días Tu que eres la mas bella de las Madres a quien amo con todo mi corazón, te pido una vez más que me ayudes a alcanzar una gracia. Sé que me ayudarás y sé que siempre me acompañarás hasta la hora de mi muerte.

Hail Mary

Ave-Maria, cheia de graça, o Senhor é convosco, bendita sois 
vós entre as mulheres a bendito é o fruto do vosso ventre, Jesus. 
Santa Maria, Mãe de Deus, rogai por nós, pecadores, 
agora e na hora da nossa morte.


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