Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
History and museums
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida (Portuguese: Basílica do Santuário Nacional de Nossa Senhora Aparecida) is a prominent Roman Rite Catholic basilica located in Aparecida, Brazil. It is dedicated to Our Lady Aparecida, (a variant of the Immaculate Conception) as the principal Patroness of Brazil. Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida roughly translates to Our Lady of Conception Who Appeared. It is the second largest church in the world, after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
The present basilica was constructed nearby an earlier chapel which housed the statue found by three fishermen in the town of Guaratinguetá. According to local tradition, the group was attempting to catch a large amount of fish in the Paraíba River for a banquet honoring the visit of São Paulo Governor, Pedro de Almeida in 1717. Despite their prayers, their attempts were fruitless until late in the day, one of the fishermen cast his net and pulled it back to find the statue of the Virgin Mary. Upon his next cast, he found the head. The group cleaned the statue, wrapped it in cloth, and returned to their task to find their fortunes had changed and they were able to obtain all the fish they needed. The statue is believed to be the work of Frei Agostino de Jesus, a monk residing in São Paulo.
The old wooden chapel was originally built in 1745. The old shrine is a modest church in the colonial style built between 1834 to 1888. Since that time, pious worshippers have termed it as a basilica.
Due to the following conflicting accounts on dates, the Vatican has enumerated the following recorded Papal documents:
In 1955, Benedito Calixto began the construction on the new basilica. The structure is in the Romanesque Revival style and takes the form of a Greek Cross with arms 188 m (617 ft) in length and 183 m (600 ft) in width. The dome is 70 m (230 ft) high and the tower reaches a height of 102 m (335 ft). The basilica contains 18,000 m2 (190,000 sq ft) of space that can accommodate 45,000 worshipers. During celebrations on the feast day of the patroness, up to 70,000 people can be accommodated in ancillary areas. The grounds contain a shopping mall, medical clinic, restaurants and a 272,000 m2 (2,930,000 sq ft) parking lot that can hold 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.
On 4 July 1980, Pope John Paul II consecrated the sanctuary under the name Our Lady of Aparecida while the building was still under construction. The feast day for Our Lady of Aparecida is 12 October.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Shrine of Aparecida on 12 May 2007, during his Apostolic Journey to Brazil on the occasion of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. During his visit, the Pope awarded the Shrine a Golden Rose.
On the occasion of World Youth Day, Pope Francis visited the basilica on 24 July 2013, venerating the image of Our Lady of Aparecida and celebrating mass there.