Today the Feast of Our Lady of Pilar is celebrated throughout Spain, Latin America, the Philippines and other Hispano-influence regions in the world. Patroness of Spain, devotion to Our Lady under this title was spread by the Spanish Church to all its colonies and missions. Devotion to Our Lady of Pilar unites millions of faithful Catholics in recognition of their common heritage of Spanish evangelization.
Nuestra Señora del Pilar, or Our Lady of the Pillar, has the distinction of being the first Marian apparition in history. Tradition tells that Our Lady appeared at the Spanish city of Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza today) in the year 40 to the apostle Saint James the Greater who was having difficulty evangelizing Spain. Mary left a pillar after her apparition and instructed the apostle to build a chapel on that spot.
Today, a magnificent basilica encloses the shrine that contains the pillar. A statue of Mary has been placed on top of the pillar and an altar erected next to it (see pictures below). Pilgrims orderly approach the shrine from the back to leave a donation and to kiss the pillar (see father below).
Flags from various countries around the world are displayed, mostly from countries colonized by Spain. Also on display are two bombs dropped on the Basilica during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s which miraculously did not explode (see two pictures below).
The presence of Our Lady of Pilar in Hispano-influenced regions is most noted today by the number of women named Maria del Pilar in honor of Our Lady. The name Mary of the Pillar may sound strange in English, but it’s a beautiful name in Spanish.
Our Lady of Pilar, pray for us!
Pictures are mine, all rights reserved.