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June 19, 2013
PRIEST HOLDS IMAGE OF MARY DURING MASS INSIDE BASILICA IN BRAZIL In the lead-up to World Youth Day Rio I thought we'd get acquainted with the patron saints and intercessors for this year, as there are 18 in total. Now, that's some serious intercession!
Some of these saints you'll recognize immediately like St. Therese of Lisieux, others will be completely new - isn't it great how many saints and blesseds we have to inspire us? So I've put together a series of short posts introducing each patron or intercessor, which I'll share over the course of the days ahead. In each, there's just enough to, hopefully, pique your curiosity to find out more. I certainly spent the good part of an afternoon reading their biographies online. I consider it a perk of the job that I can legitimately call that 'research' and not just fun. But, let's begin as all good things do with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
PATRONA NS Aparecida
Our Lady of Aparecida
According to tradition, in October 1717, Dom Pedro de Almedida, Count of Assumar passed through a small city in the Paraiba river valley ( in south-east Brazil). The people there decided to hold a feast in his honour. Although it was not the fishing season, three fishermen set out to fish in the river for the feast. The three fishermen prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and launched their nets into the river. After many hours, they were ready to give up when they discovered the body and then the head of the clay statue of Our Lady. They wrapped the statue in some cloth and continued to fish, now their nets were full. It remains a mystery how the clay statue ended up in the bottom of the river, but it is said to have been made by Frei Agostino de Jesus, a monk from São Paulo known for his sculpture. The image is less than three feet tall, and was made c. 1650. It is dark brown, covered by a stiff robe of richly embroidered thick cloth, and wears an imperial crown which was added in 1904. In 1930, after countless miracles and widespread devotion, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Aparecida the patroness of Brazil. Years later, a great basilica, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida was erected in São Paulo. The National Shrine is also where Our Lady of Aparecida is currently housed. The feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida is October 12 and since the basilica's consecration in 1980 by Pope John Paul II, its also a public holiday in Brazil. The Basilica is the fourth most popular Marian shrine in the world being able to accommodate up to 45,000 pilgrims!
And if you're wondering what that basilica looks like, here's a picture courtesy of Catholic News Service:
View of Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil
That's it for this post. Only 17 more to follow! In the meantime, to find out more about anything and everything to do with World Youth Day, check out wydcentral.org.  There, you've got access to archived information from previous World Youth Days, and I'd consider it your one-stop resource for the upcoming World Youth Day. Stay tuned!
CNS photo/Roosevelt Cassio, Reuters
CNS photo/Paulo Whitaker, Reuters
All images of saints and intercessors courtesy of rio2013.com