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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

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Brazilians Celebrate Its Patron Saint, Nossa Senhora Aparecida

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Our Lady of Aparecida DayA man makes an offering to Our Lady of Aparecida during the patron saint’s feast day on October 12, 2004. (photo: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

Approximately 100 miles north of São Paulo in Brazil lies the town of Aparecida, home to the Basílica do Santuário Nacional de Nossa Senhora Aparecida, the second largest basilica in the world. Only Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is larger.

And today on October 12th, a national holiday in Brazil, thousands of devotees are traveling to the Brazilian town to pay homage to Our Lady of Aparecida (“Our Lady Who Appeared”), the country’s patron saint.

The Marian shrine is Brazil’s version of Lourdes. In her physical form, Our Lady of Aparecida is a dark-skinned, clay statue of the Virgin Mary measuring less than three feet tall. Some refer to her as the “black Virgin” because of her dark coloration.

Nossa Senhora AparecidaAccording to one account, three fishermen hauled in the statue from the bottom of the Paraiba River in 1717. They weren’t catching any fish that day and so prayed to Virgin Mary. Soon after the statue drifted into their nets, bounties of fish followed in her wake, nearly capsizing the men’s boat. Ever since, the statue has been associated with miracles.

It’s notable that Brazil, whose population includes more than 75 million people of African descent, has a black Madonna as its patron saint. One of the many miracles associated with Nossa Senhora Aparecida, as Brazilians call her, is the liberation of a fugitive slave. Some Afro-Brazilians syncretize the saint with three female Yoruba orishas: Oshun, Yemaya, and Oya — all of whom are associated with water.

And in a modern era of technological miracles, Nossa Senhora Aparecida now has her very own Twitter feed, which you can follow (in Portuguese).

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Buddhist Slime Mold
Rob McGinley Myers, Associate Producer

It’s been a pretty cold, wet, desolate spring so far in Minnesota. I went for a walk the other night and it seemed more like autumn than spring, with the wind on my face and the scent of dead leaves in the air. But as I passed under a tree I suddenly noticed buds breaking out all over the branches. It felt like a tiny miracle.

I had just recently listened to our upcoming show with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and seeing those buds made me think of what he says about being mindful.

"When you breathe in, your mind comes back to your body, and then you become fully aware that you’re alive, that you are a miracle and everything you touch could be a miracle — the orange in your hand, the blue sky, the face of a child."

I was looking for a video to illustrate my own sense of wonder about the world coming back to life, and discovered this, which I find equally creepy and beautiful. It’s not exactly an image of spring, but it reminds me that all living things are breathing. We just have to pay attention to realize it.

(video by sesotek/Vimeo)

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