Our Lady of Aparecida

12 de October de 2016

Do you know why we have a holiday on October 12 in Brazil? It is the day of Our Lady of Aparecida the patron saint of Brazil, and our Dica do Dia will explain a little about this popular holiday and tell you a bit about the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. You’re also going to learn about the prayer for Our Lady of Aparecida and the miracles she performed.

Who was Our Lady of Aparecida?

October 12 is a Brazilian holiday and today we’ll teach you all about it. Our Lady of Aparecida is the affectionate name that Brazilians have for Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the patron saint of Brazil. She’s called Aparecida (appeared) because there are several reports of apparitions of Our Lady of the Conception in moments of difficulty, and because of her first miracle for the fishermen.

Want to know what Our Lady of Aparecida has to do with the fishermen? We’ll tell you the story. In 1717 three fishermen were fishing with no luck. They were fishing for hours and they couldn’t catch a single fish. When they were about to give up and leave, they decided to try just one last time. When they threw the net for the last time, do you know what they found? A piece of an idol of Our Lady of Aparecida. After they pulled in the tiny idol of the saint, they cast their nets again and caught so many fish! This was the first of many Our Lady Aparecida miracles yet to come. She then became a symbol of Catholicism and the Saint of Miracles.

When the celebration of Our Lady of Aparecida?

Our Lady of Aparecida has her own day in Brazil and this is October 12th. The day of Our Lady of Aparecida patroness of Brazil was celebrated on several different dates, but in 1953 the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil decided that the celebrations would all be made on the 12th of October. This date was chosen in relation to the day of the ‘Discovery’ of America. In 1980 the date was declared a national holiday.

How do Brazilians celebrate this holiday?

It is very common for Brazilians from all regions of the country to travel to the city of Aparecida in São Paulo on October 12th. There you can find the Basilica of National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, the largest Catholic church in Brazil and the second largest in the world. Usually Brazilians go there to fulfil vows made during the year, to make new requests to Our Lady and of course, take a tour around the sanctuary.

In the church is very common for Brazilians to tie ribbons making wishes for miracles they want her to perform. People also light candles to ask for whatever they need, and to make specific prayers to this saint.

Our Lady of Aparecida miracles

Among the known miracles of Nossa Senhora Aparecida is the liberation of the slave Zacarias. Nossa Senhora Aparecida appeared at a sad moment in the history of Brazil: during the period of slavery, when the black people suffered at the hands of the landowners. The “Black Mother” as she became known, came to teach a lesson in life and love to others.

According to the story, the slave Zacarias fled a farm and was later found and arrested. On the way back, he passed by the chapel that had been built for the image of this virgin and the enslaved man asked to pray. At this moment his chains miraculously broke, freeing him. Faced with this miracle, the guard eventually released him.


Let’s learn about the Our Lady of Aparecida prayer. People usually pray the novena, a prayer divided over 9 days. Take a look at part of the special prayer to this beloved virgin:

“Virgem puríssima, concebida sem pecado, e desde aquele primeiro instante toda bela e sem mancha, gloriosa Maria, cheia de graça, Mãe de meu Deus, Rainha dos anjos e dos homens: eu vos saúdo humildemente como Mãe do meu Salvador, que com aquela estima, respeito e submissão, com que vos tratava, me ensinou quais sejam as honras e a veneração que eu devo prestar-vos; dignai-vos, eu vô-lo rogo, de receber as que nesta Novena vos consagro. Vós sois o seguro asilo dos pecadores penitentes, e assim tenho razão para recorrer a vós; sois Mãe de misericórdia, e por este título não podeis deixar de enternecer-vos à vista das minhas misérias; sois depois de Jesus Cristo toda a minha esperança, e por esta razão não podereis deixar de reconhecer a terna confiança que tenho em vós; fazei-me digno de chamar-me vosso filho, para que possa confiadamente dizer-vos: mostrai que sois nossa Mãe!”

Want to know more about Brazilian holidays? Come study Portuguese in Brazil with us or have online classes and you’ll learn everything you want and need about this beautiful country.

And you? What do you usually do on the 12th of October? Is it a special day in your country?
If you are visiting São Paulo this time of year don’t forget to go to Aparecida!

Until the next culture-enriching A Dica do Dia!
A big hug from Rio & Learn!

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Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Holidays in Brazil
Independence Day in Brazil
History of Tiradentes
Fishes to eat in Brazil