Sunday, May 13, 2007

La Aparecida, Queen of Brazil

May 13

Our Lady Aparecida

Feast day October 12

In October of 1717, Dom Pedro de Almedida, Count of Assumar, was on his way to the state of Minas Gerais from Sao Paulo. He would have to pass by Guarantinqueta, a small city in the Paraiba river valley. The people of Guarantinqueta decided to hold a great feast to honor the Count, and a lot of fish would be needed.

However, it was not the season for fish and the water seemed deserted. After many hours of catching nothing, the fishermen were very depressed. Among the fishermen were three men who always prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception -- Domingos Garcia, Joco Alves, and Felipe Pedroso. Before going out to fish, they asked God to help then in this difficult task, to find enough fish at this time when no fish were available. Felipe knelt and prayed, along with his companions, "Mother of God and our Mother, we need to find fish!"

Just before they were ready to give up, Joco cast his net one more time near the Port of Itaguagu in hopes that they would find fish. However, they found a body of a statue! Joco called out in surprise, "Domingo! Felipe! Come and see what we have!" They cast the net one more time and brought up the head of the statue!

They very carefully washed the statue and saw that it was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. They wrapped her in some cloths and continued to fish. Domingo commented, "We worked all night and have found no fish!"

Felipe had a proposition: "Let's continue to fish with faith in the Virgin Aparecida (who appeared)." From this moment on, the net became very full with fish. This was the first miracle of Our Lady of Aparecida.

It is not known how the small (less than three feet high) statue came to rest at the bottom of the river, but its artist is known, Frei Agostino de Jesus, a "carioca'' monk from Sao Paulo who created artistic clay sculptures.The image was made around 1650 and must have stayed submerged in the river for many years because it lost its original polychromy. The image is now a brilliant dark brown color, and is covered by a stiff mantle of richly embroidered thick cloth, allowing only her face and hands to be seen. She wears on her head the imperial crown with precious stones with which she was crowned in 1904. In 1930 Pope Pius XII proclaimed her principal patroness of Brazil.

___(thanks to Overheard in the Sacrasty)

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