Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Lady of Aparecida

When I saw the movie "Blame it On Rio," starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, as a 20-year-old back in 1984, Brazil became my fantasy vacation spot. Yet, every time I was ready to purchase an airline ticket, I'd be warned by friends not to go there alone since, "It's too wild and anything goes!"
"Sounds like the perfect spot to me," I thought since I wear bikinis and thong underwear, love the beach, tropical fruit cocktails, and misbehaving, but as a female traveling solo I'd chicken out when it came time to plan my itinerary and I'd find myself lying on the sand somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Since I started this blog in January, Brazil has come into play once again. I've found that I have many readers there including one person who translates my blog into Portuguese.
It would be the ultimate spot to travel to and see the 130-foot Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor) statue, check out Ipanema, and make a side trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, which holds an amazing story!
In October 1717, Dom Pedro de Almeida, Count of Assumar, passed through Guarantigueta on his way to Vila Rica. The townspeople wanted to hold a festival in his honor but since it wasn't fishing season, they'd need a miracle.
Enter fishermen Domigos Garcia, Joao Alves, and Filipe Pedroso who prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. After several uneventful hours, they realized it wouldn't work.
Then, Joao Alves decided to cast his net one last time. He pulled and pulled and up came a headless statue. With another dip of his net, he found its head!
The men cleaned it up and discovered it was a beautiful dark-skinned statue of The Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. And behold! All the fish they needed for the feast appeared and then some.
It was never known why the statue, made by Frei Agostino de Jesus in 1650, was discarded at the bottom of the ocean. But it was known that the statue made miracles happened.
In 1978, the statue was stolen by a Protestant sect member. When he was chased by guards it was broken and needed major repair. In 1980, Pope John Paul II consecrated the basilica and Our Lady of Aparecida Feast Day became a national holiday in Brazil, celebrated on Oct. 12.

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