|Tradition tells us that Saint James the Greater, brother of Saint John, had a great devotion for the Virgin Mary, who in turn favoured him with her special protection. |
Mary of Agreda, a 17th-century Spanish nun and mystic, recounts two interventions of the Virgin Mary supporting the apostle in his mission of evangelizing Spain: – The first time was in Granada, where a pagan mob attacked Saint James as soon as he arrived, killing one of the twelve disciples travelling with him who had tried to protect him. Saint James and his disciples went on preaching nonetheless. Then the townspeople seized them, put them in chains, and led them out of the city to kill them. They were about to cut their throats, when James called on the help of Jesus and His Blessed Mother to save them. Our Lord ordered a thousand angels to go with His mother (who was still on earth at the time) to assist the apostle. The angels immediately took Mary to Spain. Seeing the Virgin Mary, the apostle prostrated himself as best he could before Her, for he was still chained up in bonds. She said to him: “James, my son, faithful servant, courage! Rise up and be free.” His chains and those of his disciples were immediately broken. The pagans, still holding their knives aloft, fell to the ground where they remained for some hours without any sign of life.
The second time was in Zaragoza where the Virgin of the Pillar is venerated. James was resting with his disciples on the banks of the Ebro River. A procession of angels was heard from afar. The men were all surprised and delighted at this sight. The angels carried a small marble column and a statue of the Blessed Virgin. Then Mary said to James: “James, be blessed and filled with joy!”—to which the angels replied “Amen.”—And: “My son James, God has chosen this place to build me a shrine. I promise great favour and protection to all those who come here to praise God and pray with faith and devotion. As a guarantee of this promise, my statue will be placed on this pillar and it will remain there, along with the faith, until the end of the world. Start building it as soon as possible, and when you it is completed, you will leave for Jerusalem, where my Son wants you to offer Him the sacrifice of your life at the place where He gave His.”Saint James bowed down. The angels celebrated with him the inauguration of this first shrine, which became the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, a place of many miracles, including the famous “Calanda miracle” in which a man miraculously recovered his amputated leg.
The Virgin of the Pillar is celebrated on 12th October as a National feast day for Spain and all Hispanics with great parades and solemnity.
|Adapted from: Notre Histoire avec Marie|