Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our Lady of the Pillar

Our Lady of the Pillar (Spanish: Nuestra Señora del Pilar) is the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary at her appearance during the start of Christianity in Spain. She is considered the Patroness of the country and of the Spanish Civil Guard. Her shrine is in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, by the river Ebro

According to tradition, on January 2, 40 AD, in the early days of the Church, James the Greater was evangelizing the Gospel in w Zaragoza. He was disheartened with his mission, making little progress having only few converts who had been traveling with him. In his despair, while praying by the banks of Ebro River, Mother Mary miraculously appeared before him and his group, comforting him and promised to help. Mary gave him a column or pillar as a symbol, being carried by angels with an image of the Mother on top. James was instructed to build a chapel on the spot where Mary left the pillar, a place where she and the pillar would dwell forever; so that by the grace of God, will marvel those who believed and asked in their hour of need. James returned to Jerusalem after establishing the church in Zaragoza.. The land he left eventually became believers of Christ through the works of his disciples

Blessed Pope John Paul II, on his visit to the basilica in November 1982, said....

"In my spiritual Pilgrimage of today, I wish to direct my thoughts to the Virgin of the Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain, whose basilica I had the pleasure of visiting, fulfilling my wish of kneeling as a devout son of Mary before Her sacred Column. This venerable Shrine, built on the banks of the Ebro River, is a great symbol of the presence of Mary since the beginning of the preaching of the Good News in the Iberian Peninsula.

According to an ancient local tradition, the Virgin appeared to James the Apostle in Zaragoza to console him, and she promised him her help and maternal assistance in his works of Apostolic preaching. Even more, as a signal of protection she left him a marble Column that, through the centuries has given the Shrine its name. Since then, Our Lady of Pilar in Zaragoza, as it is commonly called in Spain, is considered as the symbol of the firmness, the constancy of the faith of the Spanish people and moreover, it is also an indication of the road that leads to the knowledge of Christ through the Apostolic teaching.

The Spanish Christians have seen in the Pilar a clear analogy with the column that guided the people of Israel in their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Therefore, through the centuries, they have been able to sing "Columnam disciples habemus," we have as a guide a Column that accompanies us to the new Israel."

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