São Paulo State’s Court of Appeals has reversed a 2019 decision that stopped the building of a giant steel statue of the Virgin Mary in Aparecida, the city where Brazil’s major Catholic shrine is located.
Now, the 164-feet stainless steel sculpture portraying Our Lady of Aparecida – taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer – which was donated in 2017 by the artist Gilmar Pinna to the municipality as part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the apparition, can finally be finished.
The project includes five small religious statues implanted in different parts of the city along with the large hilltop monument.
But the work was interrupted due to a lawsuit filed by the Brazilian Atheists and Agnostics Association (ATEA), which claimed that public funds were being used to pay for religious symbols, which is forbidden by the Brazilian constitution.
However, Pinna said almost all elements that integrated the project had been donated, including the sculpture.
Here’s more about the Marian devotion that the statue celebrates:
Our Lady Aparecida – Our Lady Revealed – (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Portuguese: Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida [ˈnɔsɐ siˈɲɔɾɐ dɐ kõsejˈsɐ̃w ɐpɐɾeˈsidɐ]) is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the traditional form associated with the Immaculate Conception associated with a clay statue bearing the same title. The image is widely venerated by Brazilian Catholics, who consider her as the principal patroness of Brazil. Historical accounts state that the statue was originally found by three fishermen who miraculously caught many fish after invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida in Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil.
Colonial documents and papal bulls have referred to the image as Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida. The Roman Rite feast day of Our Lady Aparecida is on October 12, which since 1980 is also a public holiday in Brazil. The building in which it is venerated was granted the title of minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1980, and is the largest Marian shrine in the world, being able to hold up to 45,000 worshippers.