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Aparecida, São Paulo State (Brazil)

Last modified: 2013-02-24 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sao paulo | aparecida | mary | virgin | fleur-de-lis: 4 (white) | cross (white) | lozenge (white) |
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Aparecida, SP (Brazil) image by Joseph McMillan

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About the Flag of Aparecida

The flag is blue with a white cross between four white fleurs-de-lis. On a white lozenge is the municipal coat of arms, which depicts the holy statue of Our Lady of Aparecida above a tree and stream, the stream representing the river in which the figure was discovered in the 17th century. Aparecida is the foremost Marian shrine in Brazil; Nossa Senhora da Aparecida was approved by the Vatican and crowned as Patroness and Queen of Brazil, I believe in the early 20th century. The color blue and the fleur-de-lis are both traditional symbols for the Virgin Mary.
Joseph McMillan, 22 August 2002

The municipality of Aparecida (35,043 inhabitants in 2010; 12,094 ha) is located in the Paraíba Valley, 170 km of São Paulo.

Aparecida (lit., "Appeared") was born from a miracle that happened in 1717. The fishers Domingos Garcia, Felipe Pedroso and João Alves, were commissioned to catch fish for a banquet to be served in Guaratinguetá to Pedro Miguel de Almeida, Governor of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. They threw a net into the river and retrieved first a headless, black statue of the Blessed Virgin; throwing again the net, they retrieved a statute's head that perfectly fit into the headless statue. The miraculous fishing of the statue was interpreted as a signal of Marian benediction of the place.

The miraculous statue, of c. 40 cm in height, is made of terracotta. Its dark brown colour is the result of exposure for years to candle's smoke. Specialists have dated the statue from the 17th century. After a stylistic analysis, they concluded that the sculptor must have been the Benedictine friar Agostinho de Jesus. Following its discovery, the statue remained for 15 years in Felipe Pedroso's house. Following the increased fame of the statue, Father José Alves Vilela built in 1743 a chapel on the Coconut Palm's Hill ("Morro dos Coqueiros"), where the first mass was celebrated on 26 July 1745. The church subsequently built to keep the statue was erected a Minor Basilica on 29 April 1908; in 1929, Pope Pie XI proclaimed the Aparecida Blessed Virgin Brazil's Queen and official patron saint. Access to the basilica was favoured by the building of a railway station by the Brazil Central Railways Co.; the first fours trains arrived in Aparecida on 8 September 1935, transporting 5,000 pilgrims from São Paulo. The New Basilica, built in 1955, was erected a Minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1980; in 1984, the National Conference of Brazil Bishops proclaimed the basilica a National Sanctuary. Designed by the architect Benedito Calixto de Jesus Neto, the New Basilica, forming a Greek cross of 173 m x 168 m; is visited each year by 75 millions of pilgrims In 1978, an attempt broke down the statue in some 200 pieces; Maria Helena Chartuni, from the São Paulo Museum of Arts, reconstituted the statue as it was before.

The municipality of Aparecida was established on 17 December 1928, seceding from Guaratinguetá - Municipal website

The symbols of Aparecida are prescribed in Article 3 of the Municipal Constitution, adopted on 5 April 1990, as "the flag, the anthem and the coat of arms, representative of its culture and history". The official colours of the municipality are given as "blue and white".

The flag of Aparecida is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 1,444-A of 28 December 1970. The flag was selected through a public contest placed under the heraldic authority of Arcinóe Antonio Peixoto de Faria, who recommended the addition of a fleur-de-lis in each quarter.

The cross symbolizes the Christian spirit of the people. Blue and white are the colours of the Blessed Virgin. The fleur-de-lis, the heraldic flower par excellence symbolizing the highest nobleness, is the symbol of Jesus' Holy Mother. The lozenge is a symbol of virginity.

The coat of arms placed in the middle of the flag represents the municipal government, while the lozenge symbolizes the town as the seat of the municipality. The cross-forming stripes symbolize the municipal power spreading over all the municipal territory. The quarters represent the rural estates located on the municipal territory. - "Enciclopedia VP" website

Photo of the flag:

The coat of arms of Aparecida, originally designed by Enzo Silveira and revised by Arcinóe Antonio Peixoto de Faria, is: "A Samnitic shield surmounted by an eight-towered mural crown argent, argent a statue of Our Lady of the Apparition sable clad with a cloak azure bordered or crowned of the same, the base vert a fess [wavy] argent supporting a mound issuant ensigned with a coconut palm. The shield supported by two plants of rice proper. Beneath the shield a scroll gules inscribed with the municipality's name surrounded by the years '1717' and '1928' all argent." On the header of the Municipal Constitution, "APARECIDA" is written in letters or and subtitled "CAPITAL MARIANA DO BRASIL" in letters sable.

The Samnitic shield, the first style of shield introduced in Portugal from France and inherited by the Brazilian heraldry, evokes the colonizing race that mainly built our nation. The five-towered mural crown argent represents a second-rank town, seat of a "comarca". Argent is a symbol of peace, friendship, work, prosperity, purity and religious feeling. The statue of Our Lady of the Apparition makes the arms canting. It is represented as seen on the sanctuary's altar, made of wood sculpted by the water of river Paraíba, where she was found. The base of the shield represents the fertile soil of the municipality and the legendary river that waters it. The mound represents the Coconut Palm's Hill ("Morro do Coqueiro"), where the first chapel was built to honour the discovered statue. Vert is a symbol of honour, civility, courtesy, abundance and joy. It is also the symbol of hope, alluding to the greening fields in spring promising profuse harvests. Azure is a symbol of justice, nobleness, perseverance, zeal and loyalty. Sable is a symbol of prudence, knowledge and moderation. The rice plants recall the main crop in the region, of great significance for the municipality, although Marian tourism is today the main source of income for Aparecida. - "Enciclopedia VP" website

The municipal website shows the coat of arms as described above - and used on the flag -, but gives another written description, probably fitting Enzo Silveira's original design. "Portuguese shield surmounted by a mural crown. Per pale, 1. Azure the statue of Our Lady of the Apparition proper, 2. Gules a coconut palm vert, in base a bend argent. The shield supported dexter by a plant of rice and sinister by a plant of coffee fructed. Beneath the shield a scroll argent inscribed with the motto 'PRO FIDE E PATRIA' [For Faith and Fatherland] gules."

The explanation of the coat of arms is more or less the same as for the today's one, with some minor differences. Or represents the depth of faith and the public-spiritedness of the people. Gules evoke the patriotic ardor of the people. The mural crown is charged with a castle, recalling that Aparecida housed a command post of the Constitutionalist forces during the 1932 Paulista War. - Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 2 February 2013