St. Josemaria Escriva: A Pilgrim at Aparecida

On May, 28, 1974, St. Josemaria Escriva made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.

When he arrived at the shrine, a woman came forward and handed him a bouquet of white roses for our Lady. The priest accompanying him took the roses as they entered the basilica where hundreds of people were waiting to join him in reciting the rosary.

With his gaze fixed on the small statue, St. Josemaria knelt on the floor of the sanctuary and began to pray the rosary in Portuguese. Slowly, in unison, the entire church prayed aloud. At the end of the rosary, St. Josemaria stood up and walked around the altar. Near Our Lady, he looked at her for a moment, where the roses had been placed at her feet, and he kissed the shield while saying in a low voice, “Mother!”

After the pilgrimage, St. Josemaria remarked: “With what joy I went to Aparecida! With what faith you all prayed! I said to the Mother of God, who is your Mother and mine: ‘My Mother, our Mother, I pray with all this faith of my children. We love you very, very much.’ And she seemed to listen, in the depths of her heart: ‘with works!'”

[1974] St. Josemaria Escriva with his companions praying the Rosary in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida

OUR LADY OF APARECIDA – PATRONESS OF BRAZIL

Our Lady of Aparecida, loosely translated as “Our Lady Who Appeared,” is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with the Immaculate Conception. Her image, a small clay statue, is widely venerated as the Patroness of Brazil. The statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida in Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil.

According to history, the statue was originally found on October 12, 1717, in the Paraiba River by three fishermen. The fishermen – Domingos Garcia, Filipe Pedroso, and João Alves – were helping their village prepare for a banquet in honor of Count Pedro de Almeida, Governor of the Province of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Since early morning they had been fishing without catching anything and were ready to give up. But João Alves decided to try casting his net one more time. As he began to draw it in, he felt that there was something there but it wasn’t a fish. When he pulled it out of the net, they all saw that it was a headless statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. João cast his net once more and found the statue’s head. Inspired by the discovery, he decided to cast his net into the river a third time. This time, it filled with fish. The other two cast their nets and also found their nets filled with an abundance of fish.

The three fishermen repaired the statue and placed it in Filipe’s humble home as news quickly spread of the miraculous catch. Every day people began arriving to honor the Blessed Virgin and pray the rosary. They gave her the name “Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida.” In time, the crowds became so large that a chapel was built as the faithful continued to give witness to the graces and miracles that were received from Our Lady.

In 1930, Our Lady of Aparecida was declared the Patroness of Brazil by Pope Pius XI.

During his Apostolic Visit to Brazil in 1980, Pope St. John Paul II became the first Pope to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. In his homily, he said, “‘Long live the Mother of God and ours, conceived without sin! Long live the Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady Aparecida!’

Since I set foot on Brazilian soil, in the various places through which I have passed, I have heard this canticle. It is, in the sincerity and simplicity of its words, a cry of the soul, a greeting, an invocation full of filial devotion and confidence, to her who, being the real Mother of God, was given to us by her Son Jesus at the last moment of his life (cf. Jn 19:26) to be our Mother.

In no other place does this song assume such significance and such intensity as in this place where the Virgin, over two centuries ago, had an extraordinary meeting with the Brazilian people. Since then, the anxieties of this people lightly turn to this place; since then, the Catholic heart of Brazil beats here. This is the goal of incessant pilgrimages from all over the country and has been called the ‘spiritual Capital of Brazil.'”

The feast of Our Lady of Aparecida is October 12.

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The St. Josemaria Institute was founded in 2006 to promote the life, teachings, and devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva among all men and women who desire to find meaning and happiness in their daily lives by growing closer to God. The St. Josemaria Institute produces and distributes digital and print media as a means to spread Christian values around the world and to help people navigate and live well in the digital age.

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