Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our Lady of Pillar in Zaragoza (1/3): The very first Shrine to Virgin Mary, Her only Apparition prior to her Assumption.

Zaragoza, (Saragossa), founded by Caesar Augustus, was a capital city of the Roman Empire in the territory of Hispania, roman name of Spain. St. James the Apostle came to teach the Good News to the country, around 40 years after Christ. And he came to Zaragoza. It is here, where the first Shrine to Our Lady has been ever built.
This is the only apparition of Our Lady we have heard of taking place prior to her Assumption. The year when this apparition occurred was c. 40 or 41 AD.
For twelve years before Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven the people of Spain were venerating Our Lady as Our Lady of the Pillar.
According to Sr. Mary Agreda, Our Lady was 55 years of age and living in Ephesus when this happened and she was 67 years when she was Assumed into Heaven, as it is told in The City of God.

This is how it happened:
While Our Lady was living in Ephesus, before her Assumption, Jesus appeared to her and asked her to go with the angels to see St. James who was in Zaragoza at the time. She was to tell James that Jesus wished him to return to Jerusalem to be martyred.
St. James the Apostle was sitting here on the bank of the Ebro River, discouraged and heartsick at his lack of success in bringing Christianity to the region. The Virgin Mary appeared to him. She was atop a pillar of jasper carried by the angels and she was holding a small wooden statue of herself.
Our Lady gave the message to St. James. She reassured him that his efforts would not be in vain and asked him to consecrate a church in her name on the site where the apparition took place.  
She gave the pillar and image to James requesting that they were to be used on the altar, to mark the spot where she had made her appearance.
Saint James built a small chapel for her, which later was replaced with the Basilica on the same spot. As Mary promised, St. James was indeed successful in bringing Christianity to Spain, and the place of his encounter with the Virgin became a holy place. 
Mass began to be celebrated at the little church and people began to venerate Our Lady through the image left there by her and the angels. The little church, built 2000 years ago is still the same.  Only they soon began building a larger church over it to accommodate the thousands that grew into millions of pilgrims that journey there each year.  It is an awesome sight to behold, and it does take your breath away.

The pillar that had been fashioned by the Angels is still there and has been venerated and kissed by the faithful for almost 2000 years.  When you visit the Chapel of our lady of Pilar, you will see the tiny image resting on the Pillar brought over by Mother Mary and the Angels.  And if you go to the back of the Chapel as our Blessed Pope John Paul II did, you too can kiss the Pillar.  Many other holy men and women came too... we will tell you more soon.

Think about it!  The people of Spain were venerating the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of the Pilar for at least 12 years before She was Assumed into Heaven. And it happened in Zaragoza, at the Basilica of Our Lady or the Pillar. 

References to learn more:
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