300 Years of Devotion
By Donnell Kirchner, C.Ss.R.
Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets last week to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Our Lady of Aparecida, the beloved patroness of Brazil. An estimated 50,000 joined the Redemptorists of the Vice Province of Manaus in a special novena at Our Lady of Aparecida Parish.
Many people still readily identify with the three humble fishermen who snagged the body of a small broken statue of Our Lady on October 12, 1717. After the trio netted the statue’s head in a different area of the river that day, their luck changed: they drew in nets bursting with fish.
This catch was not a mere coincidence, but the beginning of a river of graces for the poor people of Brazil. A small prayer chapel was built for the statue, and then a larger one was constructed near the site where the statue had appeared in the waters.
From the very beginning, many miracles were reported. When the candles in the chapel went out, they re-lit themselves. A blind girl was miraculously cured. The chains binding a slave fell off when he knelt at the feet of the statue and prayed to the Virgin of Aparecida.”
Pilgrimages from neighboring towns became common, and soon people from throughout the States of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais were praying at the statue and asking for graces. Devotion spread as miracle after miracle was reported.
Generations of Brazilians have found solace in Our Lady of Aparecida, and the faithful continue to venerate the humble woman who understands suffering and privation. An estimated 50,000 people lined the streets in the center of Manaus last Thursday to sing and pray in honor of the Mother of God.
Pope Francis sent an encouraging video reminding the faithful that Our Lady understands struggles and hardship, and will help all to reach better days. A million copies of a special Our Lady of Aparecida commemorative stamp will be made available to the public.
St. Alphonsus would have been very proud of the Redemptorists who share devotion to the Mother of God in the Vice Province of Manaus. As they said a thousand times here, “Viva Nossa Senhora.”