The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady 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. Its official title in Portuguese is Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, roughly translated as Our Lady of Conception Who Appeared.
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 basilica is a modest church in the colonial style built between 1834 to 1888. It replaced a small chapel originally constructed in 1745. Pope Saint Pius X granted it minor basilica status in 1908. The shrine is also called Our Lady of Nazareth by other local Christians.
In 1955, Benedito Calixto began the construction on the new basilica. The structure is in the Romanesque 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 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 July 4, 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 October 12. Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Shrine of Aparecida on May 12, 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 July 24, 2013, venerating the image of Our Lady of Aparecida and celebrating mass there.
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