Thiago LeonComplexo Santuário Nacional de Aparecida
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception of Aparecida, the largest Marian Sanctuary in the world, located in the Paraíba Valley region, in the Rio-Sao Paulo area, between the two most important cities in the country. A river with that same name, Paraíba, runs along the valley, which was scene of the apparition of a devotion that unites the whole country.
The foundation stone of the New Basilica was laid on September 10, 1946, although the construction works were actually started on November 11, 1955. The first local mass was held on September 11, 1946, and religious activities started to be definitely undertaken in the Sanctuary as of October 03, 1982, when the Image was transferred from the Old Basilica to the New Basilica.
In 1980, the New Basilica was consecrated by Pope John Paul II, who bestowed it with the title of Minor Basilica. In 1983, the Episcopal Conference of Brazil (CNBB) officially declared the Basilica of Aparecida as a National Sanctuary.
Currently, the Sanctuary is a large evangelizing center, trusted since 1894 to the apostolic zeal of the Redemptorist Missionaries, responsible for the pastoral works, for its administration, and for sheltering pilgrims arriving from every part of the Country and from abroad.
Three Popes have visited the National Sanctuary: John Paul II, in 1980; Pope Benedict XVI, when he opened the V Episcopal Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, in May 2007; and Pope Francis, in 2013, during the World Youth Day, held that year in Rio de Janeiro.
During the month of October, and especially on October 12, the day of Our Lady of Aparecida, people from all corners of Brazil visit the Sanctuary, when the eyes of the world are fixed on the Sanctuary to accompany local festivities and this great manifestation of faith by Brazilian people.
The National Sanctuary welcomes millions of visitors every year. Under the motto ‘To shelter is also to evangelize’, Redemptorist Missionaries, many female religious congregations, hundreds of volunteers and a large number of collaborators work at the Sanctuary, dedicating their efforts to provide quality sheltering to pilgrims.
In addition all that structure to shelter and provide accessibility to visitors, and to the investments in communication, the National Sanctuary also promotes social activities. Thousands of people are benefited by the partnerships and projects, including children, adolescents, elderly and disabled people.