Looking back, I’m not sure I really explained the whole point of the Caminho Da Fe
It was only established 13 years ago by Almiro Grings, a Brazilian who has twice walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain
He thought that Brazil – the largest Catholic country in the world – should have something similar so he set about establishing a trail that now runs about 500 km through the Sao Paulo and stunningly beautiful Minas Gerais states
It has a similar infrastructure with a series of pousadas or hostels catering for the pilgrim. Some are really homestays with Brazilian families
The Caminho ends at Aparecida where a huge cathedral (second only in size to St Peters ) holds Brazil’s holiest relic
In 1717 an important official was visiting this region. But the local fishermen were unable to catch enough for the feast
Then one of them dragged up the headless clay statue of the black Madonna. Then another found the head.
Legend has it that the tiny statue became so heavy they found it impossible to move
Immediately they began to catch loads of fish.
And over the centuries the statue (Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Our Lady of the appeared ) has been credited with many miracles including the freeing of slaves
Now this may seem unlikely to you
But I can tell you that this statue is taken very seriously here.
They’re currently taking a COPY from Aparecida around the country in the run up to the 300th anniversary.
I witnessed this in two towns. They had a cavalcade of cars, horns blaring
Fireworks. Singing. And a church service in which people were openly weeping
So goodness knows what it will be like in Aparecida itself