This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12 -- Feast of Our Lady Aparecida

I know that a statue is not a saint, and that I asserted this was a saint of the day blog.  If you are distressed by my deviance, visit last year's post about John of Beverly.

Our Lady Aparecida
The origin of this statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary goes back before 1717, but how exactly how far back, no one knows.  It is commonly agreed that it was carved around 1650 by a Sao Paolo monk named Frei Agostino de Jesus and that it had been at the bottom of the river for a long, long time.

The story goes that a Brasilian provincial governor was coming to town and the locals were organizing a big feast.  They went fishing, even though it was not the right season, but for hours they brought up nothing.  Then, just as they were about to quit, they brought a three foot statue of the BVM up in their nets.  One cast of the nets brought up the body, the next brought the head, and the third brought enough fish to feed the whole village.

The statue was venerated at a miraculous blessing.  It has been adorned in a stiff fabric robe, and a golden crown has been place on it.  Pope Pius XII declared in 1930 that Our Lady Aparecida (the BVM, not the three-foot wooden statue of her) is the principal protector of Brasil. It is especially popular among Afro-Brasilians, both because it is a Black Madonna (the clay being quite dark) and because  slave was one of the first beneficiaries of its (her?) miracles. 

The discovery as a logo for a couples counseling convention
Of course nothing gets venerated without being a target for the haters.  On May 16, 1978, just before Pope John Paul II's visit to Brasil, a Protestant tried to steal Our Lady Who Appeared, but upon being chased, dropped and smashed it.  Artists put it back together,  but that old iconoclasm keeps rearing its head.  Then on October 12, 2010, a member of a Brasilian evangelical church (the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God -- UCKG) kicked, slapped, and insulted a copy of the statue.  The kicker, Sergio von Helde, was found guilty of religious discrimination and desecration and sentenced to two years in prison.  The UCKG was denounced and received bomb threats; its leader, Bishop Edir Macedo, apologized, but also criticized the media for running footage of the slapping and kicking over and over. 

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