Q: Can you provide information on the Marian Shrine at Sameiro, Portugal?
A: The shrine at Monte Sameiro, near the city of Braga in northern Portugal, is considered the country's second most important shrine honoring Mary. She is honored there under her title of the Immaculate Conception. The dogma was proclaimed by Pius IX on December 8, 1854.
During the following month, January 1855, the diocese of Braga was the first in Portugal to celebrate this dogmatic declaration with an elaborate ceremony. A priest of the diocese, Martinho Antonio Pereira da Silva (1812-1875), thought it would be fitting to commemorate the dogmatic definition with a permanent monument. In 1861 he began gathering funds for the project, and construction began in June 1863.
The following is an excerpt of the talk given at the ground-breaking by the dean of the diocese of Braga:
How fitting it is that on this elevated and lofty height, which appears to dominate all of nature and to encompass the most distant places, there is placed an image of the Favored Daughter of the Most High, who from the first moment of her existence was destined to rule and protect with her scepter of sweetness, goodness and mercy all mortals who are tossed about by the torrents of the world. How fitting that we have here a monument to perpetuate the memory of this most perfect creature, the one who is herself a most monumental work of grace! She is a supernatural edifice of perfection, whom the Church presents to us as a tower of ivory, a house of gold, the gate of heaven, the morning star, the Queen of All Saints.
The outdoor shrine was dedicated on August 28, 1869. A marble statue of Mary was installed, the work of a sculptor from Porto, Emidio Carlo Amatucci. Unfortunately Amatucci's statue was destroyed by some kind of electrical failure in 1883. It was replaced in 1886 by the work of another Portuguese sculptor, Antonio Teixeira.
Father da Silva wished to commemorate the dogma of Vatican Council I with a chapel next to the shrine of Our Lady. Work began on this chapel on August 31, 1873. A statue of Mary intended for this chapel was created by the Italian sculptor, Eugerilio Maccagnani. It was blessed in 1876 by Pius IX. It finally came to Monte Sameiro on August 29, 1880.
In 1890 the present church at Monte Sameiro was begun. Near the entrance to the grounds is a row of four statues honoring theologians noted for their writings about the Blessed Virgin: St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Alphonsus di Liguori, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Anthony of Padua.
In 1904 on June 12 one of the statues of Mary was solemnly crowned by the Papal Nuncio Giuseppe M'acchi, delegated for this event by Pius X. This was to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
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