Sao Paulo, Oct 12 (EFE).- Thousands of people flocked on Tuesday to the shrine of Brazil’s patron saint, Our Lady of Aparecida, amid the gradual easing of the pandemic restrictions that put a damper on last year’s celebration.
Before Covid-19, as many as 170,000 people would come to the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Basilica in Aparecida do Norte, some 170 km (105 mi) from Sao Paulo, to file past the clay statue of the patroness on the occasion of her feast day of Oct. 12.
The sanctuary can hold up to 45,000 people, but last year authorities limited the number of worshippers who could be inside the basilica at the same time to 1,000.
For 2021, officials have established a maximum attendance of 2,500 for each of the 14 Masses to be celebrated during the course of the day as Covid-19 cases and fatalities continue to decline in a country where coronavirus has claimed more than 600,000 lives.
The principal Mass was led by the archbishop of Aparecida, Orlando Brandes, who called on Brazilians to build a country free of hate, guns and corruption and to foster a spirit of fraternity.
“To be a beloved (amada) homeland, it cannot be an armed (armada) homeland,” the prelate said, urging society to prevent the transformation of “innocent children” into “armed children.”
Brandes offered that homily less than two weeks after a public event where right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro hailed a 6-year-old clad in a police uniform and holding a toy gun as an “example of civility.”
“Children need other arms: prayer, obedience, to live with their brothers and sisters,” the archbishop said. EFE ag/dr