A gigantic image of St. Michael the Archangel often surprises the unprepared among the travelers who daily drive along the BR 369 highway in Brazil, one of the main roads connecting the southern states of São Paulo and Paraná.
The shiny 15-ton statue, which is about 62 feet tall and is made entirely of stainless steel, can be seen from the road, attracting drivers. Those who let themselves be carried away by curiosity follow the signs that indicate the way to reach the Diocesan Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel. Positioned above the surrounding landscape on top of a hill, it’s only about a mile off the highway.
A truly heavenly gift awaits those who decide to step on the brakes and explore the shrine. When entering the complex, the size of the parking lot reveals that the place is prepared to receive thousands of pilgrims.
This first impression is confirmed by the ample infrastructure the pilgrims have at their disposal and the size of the shrine. When the monthly celebration with prayers for healing and deliverance takes place on the 29th of each month, the shrine reaches its maximum capacity of 4.5 thousand seated people.
Among the largest in the world
A few yards away from the shrine entrance is the base of the image of St. Michael the Archangel, which is even more impressive up close. It stands atop a four-story building and can be seen from miles away.
Including the height of the building and that of the statue, its total height is approximately 124 feet, slightly smaller than the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Next to the image, a plaque displays the following text: “This work is a gift to St. Michael the Archangel for having taken care of Jesus on earth as a child and man/God. The one who asked for this gift was Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”
In addition, the plaque also mentions that this is the 3rd largest shrine to St. Michael the Archangel in the world. The first is Monte Sant’Angelo, which is on the slopes of Mount Gargano in Italy; and the second is Mont Saint-Michel, which is on a small island in France.
Beyond the horizon
Likewise, features of the area surrounding the site are another major attraction of the tour. When exploring the site, passing by the left side of the shrine, visitors can see that another mandatory stop of the trip is right there on the other side of the highway: a Way of the Cross that leads to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Michael the Archangel with the Nine Choirs of Angels, and its 266-foot-tall cross – the largest in Brazil and one of the largest in the world.
Simultaneously inaugurated in 2017 – five years after the opening of the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel – both the grotto and the cross impress with their atmosphere of spirituality.
The beauty of the sacred arts present inside the grotto is not the only thing that attracts visitors. Queues form at the site, with the faithful waiting to get some water from the spring that wells up inside the cave. The precious liquid is stored in a kind of reservoir next to the image of Jesus.
Many beautiful photos taken by faithful who visit the site can be found on social networks.