Today was a national holiday in Brazil honoring Nossa Senhora do Aparecida or Our Lady of Aparecida. It also happens to be National Children's Day. It is easy to understand a holiday celebrating the pudgy little tots who grow up to look and act a lot like we do (for good and for bad). But who is Our Lady of Aparecida--aside from a saint who enables us to have a three day weekend frolicking at the beach?
Legend has it (and I am keeping it simple here), that three fisherman hired to catch fish for a banquet honoring the governor went several days without any bounty. Reaching Porto Itaguaçu, they dipped their nets into the sea and pulled up a headless (and dark brown/black) statue of Our Lady of the Conception (Aparecida). On second toss, they reeled in the head. All subsequent dips resulted in a plethora of fish for the humble trio (and a successful fish fry, no doubt). For the next fifteen years, the statue remained in possession of one of the fishermen, Filipe Pedroso. Countless visitors and answered prayers resulted in a cult following and a chapel--which grew into a Basilica in Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil. It is now the second largest Catholic place of worship in the world (the parking lot holds 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars) celebrating the Queen of Brazil aka the Virgin aka Nossa Senhora do Aparecida.
God Bless Our Lady, Our Children, and a lovely holiday weekend.