In the mid-20th century, as the popularity of Our Lady of Aparecida grew, the construction of a much larger building to shelter the image became necessary. In 1955, work on the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida was begun. Architect Benedito Calixto designed a building in the form of a Greek cross, 173 meters long and 168 meters wide; the tower is 100 meter high, the naves have 40 meters and the dome is 70 meters high, covering a surface area of around 18,000 square meters. It can hold up to 45,000 people. The 272,000 square meters of parking hold 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.
It is currently the largest Marian temple and the third largest Basilica* in the world, losing only to St. Peter's in the Vatican City. On July 4, 1980, while still under construction, it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II and given the title of Minor Basilica. As the patroness of Brazil, one of the functions of the Basilica is to work as a site of pilgrimage for laborers, which takes place each year onBrazil's independence holiday, September 7. According to recent estimates, the Basilica attracts about 8 million pilgrims a year.
The influence of the cult of Our Lady Aparecida on Brazilian Catholic society is incalculable. In 1992 a study showed that 296 parishes were dedicated to her while five cathedrals had the same title. In addition, many towns are named after the Virgin and so are many Brazilian women and girls. The modern art styled cathedral of Brasilia designed by Oscar Niemeyer is dedicated to Nossa Senhora Aparecida, as Brasilia is the national capital and she is invoked as Brazil's special protector.
In 2004, to commemorate the centennial of the pontifical coronation commanded by Pope Pius X, and the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was crowned afresh. The coronation was presided by the then Archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Eugênio Sales, in the capacity of special papal envoy of Pope John Paul II.
(Above Text from public sources, as is the image of the Basilica, below)
(*) St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is the largest Church in the world, and the second-largest is the Esztergom Basilica in Hungary.