The Feast Day of Our Lady of Aparecida every 12 October is centred around the Our Lady of Aparecida shrine and incumbent statuette.
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The statue is thought to represent the Virgin Mary, who is, in this form, the patron saint of Brazil. The Our Lady of Aparecida icon is thought to have been either imported from Portugal or manufactured by a Sao Paulo monk named Agostinho de Jesus around 1650. However, the image was lost until it was rediscovered in the 18th Century by a group of three fishermen. After venerating Mary, as the story goes, they discovered the icon in the mud and caught a great abundance of fish immediately thereafter.
The statue stands only three feet tall and is made of dark-brown clay. It is covered with a dark blue, embroidered cloth robe, bears the flags of both Brazil and of Vatican City, and wears a crown that was added in 1904. This particular pose and decor of Virgin Mary statue is associated by Roman Catholics with the doctrine of the immaculate conception, and the icon is highly honoured by most Brazilians.
It is kept in the Aparecida neighbourhood of Sao Paulo inside the basilica and shrine that bears its name. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Aparecida has been a Brazilian holiday since 1980, and the shrine is the largest dedicated to Mary in the whole world, able to contain over 45,000 people at once.
In 1978, someone infiltrated the shrine and attempted to steal Our Lady of Aparecida. He was caught with the statue on the way out of the building, but in a struggle with police at the scene, he dropped the icon to the ground. It shattered into pieces. Later, it was pieced back together by expert craftsmen.