Zaragoza, Spain (10/13/2014 Gaudium Press) Maybe the stone most piously kissed in the world is a pillar left by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself in Zaragoza, Spain. As Yolanda Aznar writes in ABC.es, during centuries kisses of the faithful have eroded the stone which was given to the Apostle James the Greater, on January 2 of the year 40 of the Christian era, in an apparition of Mary the Mother of God, when she was still on earth.
|Faithful wait in line to kiss the pillar|
This apostle, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, was praying with his disciples, on the bank of the river Ebro in Zaragoza. According to tradition, she had promised Saint James that when he needed it most in his difficult mission to the pagans in today’s Spain, she would appear to him to encourage him.
In fact, St. James was preaching the Gospel in the Roman province of Hispania but he was disheartened with his mission, having made very few converts. While he was praying by the banks of the Ebro River, Mary miraculously appeared before him accompanied by angels and bringing a pillar. She assured James that the people would eventually be converted and their faith would be as strong as this pillar. She gave him the pillar, which looks like a column maybe more than a meter high, made of beautiful jasper stone and also left with him a wooden image of her. James was instructed to build a chapel on the spot where she left the pillar. This became the first temple built in the honour of Mary in the whole of Christianity. Since then the pillar rest at the same place where Mary left it.
The existence of this temple is mentioned in documents from the Mozarabic times, around the ninth century, under the name of the Church of Santa Maria, as Yolanda Aznar tells us.
In 1435 the Chapel suffered a serious fire and a new one was built in Gothic Mudejar style. Comprehensive reform were undertaken in 1680 and concluded by Ventura Rodriguez after a decade of work. On the occasion of the “Fiestas del Pilar” in 1765, the then Archbishop of Zaragoza consecrated the new chapel which stands till today.
Our Lady of the Pillar is the Patroness of Spain and the Hispanic world. Her shrine is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar situated in Zaragoza, one of the most visited shrines in the world.
On the back of the column there is an opening which gives access to the pillar itself for the veneration of the faithful. The stone has been eroded by the kisses of her devotees during all these centuries.
It is still common to see a fat row of worshipers waiting their turn to kiss the Pillar. The kisses erodes little by little the beautiful jasper but on the other hand the pillar strengthens the faith of her devotes who see in that pillar a symbol of what their faith should be today and till the end of times. (ANH)