Patron Saints Index:
In October 1717, Dom Pedro de Almedida, Count of Assumar passed through the area of Guarantinqueta, a small city in the Paraiba river valley. The people there decided to hold a feast in his honour, and though it was not fishing season, the men went to the waters to fish for the feast. Three of the fishermen, Domingos Garcia, Joco Alves, and Felipe Pedroso, prayed to the Immaculate Conception, and asked God’s help. However, after several hours they were ready to give up. Joco cast his net once more near the Port of Itaguagu, but instead of fish, he hauled in the body of a statue. The three cast their net again, and brought up the statue’s head. After cleaning the statue they found that it was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Naming their find Our Lady Aparecida, they wrapped it in cloth and continued to fish; now their nets were full.
While we do not know why the statue was at the bottom of the river, we do know who made it. Frei Agostino de Jesus, a carioca monk from Sao Paulo known for his sculpture. The image was less than three feet tall, was made around 1650, and must have been underwater for years. It is a dark brown color, is covered by a stiff robe of richly embroidered thick cloth, and wears an imperial crown which was added in 1904. Only her face and hands can be seen. Pope Pius XII proclaimed her principal patroness of Brazil in 1930. The statue was recently vandalized by being broken into several pieces just prior to a visit by Pope John Paul II, but a group of dedicated artists and artisans carefully pieced it together again.