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The Virgin Mary may not be able to pull Brazil out of a deep recession, but her church-sponsored house calls do wonders to ease economic malaise among participating Catholic families. Pilar Olivares/Reuters

This old Catholic ritual is giving Brazil’s economy a small boost, one Virgin Mary statuette at a time

For a century, Brazil's Catholic Church has sent holy statues out to parishioners' homes. A new study finds that these visits create a local subeconomy, benefitting families and the church.

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