Zaragoza (Saragossa), Spain: Apparitions to the Apostle James as Our Lady of the Pillar
Of all the apparitions of Our Lady reported over the centuries, this is perhaps the most unique, since it is said to have happened before her Assumption into Heaven, while she was still on this earth and living in Jerusalem.
The story was revealed in a vision to Saint Mary Agreda, and related in her writings. She wrote that in the year 40 AD, James the Apostle was praying at a nearby stream. He was despondent over his failure to win many converts despite his efforts. Our Blessed Mother appeared to him and gave him a statue of her as well as a column of Jasper Wood with the instructions to build a church in her honor on the spot. She stated that the image was to be the title of the church and the column to be the altar.
A small chapel was built about one year later and several churches have been destroyed and the re-built on this location over the years. It is the second-most popular pilgrimage site in Spain, second only to Santiago de Compostela.
The statue is about 15 inches tall and sits on a column of Jasper and can be seen and venerated by all who visit here. At the back of the enclosure holding the statue you can kneel and kiss the pillar.
That the Church has survived all these centuries is quite a miracle in itself. It even survived the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), when none of the three bombs dropped on it exploded.
There is an interesting story of a miraculous healing that took place in the 1600’s that is related to Our Lady of the Pillar. It involved a young man who had his leg amputated but later rubbed some of the oil from the statue and his amputated leg was restored to him!
Some Catholic and secular tours of Spain do include Zaragoza as part of their itinerary so check with your tour operator if you are interested in group travel to Zaragosa.
The Feast Day of Our Lady of the Pillar is celebrated on October 12.
Traveling to Zaragoza:
You will find the city listed as Zaragoza on Spanish maps–the actual name–although it is often listed as Saragossa in many English-language maps. Either way, it is the same city.
Zaragosa is in Northern Spain, in the Basque country. There is an airport here serving other cities in Spain and Europe. By train, it is a little over one hour from Madrid (be sure to take the train from Puerta de Atocha Station to Zaragosa Delicias) and equally by car it is a little over an hours’ drive. From Barcelona, catch the high-speed train that will take about 90 minutes.
The city is quite large (about 750,000 population) and the Cathedral is located at the Plaza of Our Lady of Pilar near the center of the city (note the spelling is Pilar in Spanish).
Address: Plaza del Pilar, s/n, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
GPS coordinates: 41° 39′ 24.3756” N, 0° 52′ 42.6684” W
Tel: +34 976 39 74 97
e-mail: [email protected]
Click here for the official website for the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (requires Adobe Flash Player)