| Pope John Paul II and Our Lady of Pilar also known as Our Lady of the Pillar |
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 Pope John Paul II did, you too can kiss the Pillar.
On November 6th in the year 1982, when our beloved Pope John Paul II pilgrimaged to this holy Shrine, he knelt, like the millions before him and kissed the holy Pillar. He celebrated Mass at the Chapel of our Lady of Pilar, built by Saint James and the Angels 2000 years before. He prayed to his Lady, to the one to whom he has pledged his all (Totus Tuus), only now before Her image and title of Our Lady of Pillar.
On that day, Pope John Paul II, very moved, and with great emotion, removed his zucchetto from his head and left it and a beautiful rosary, as a remembrance of his visit. The following are some excerpts from his speech on that special occasion:
"In my spiritual Pilgrimage of today, I wish to direct my thoughts to the Virgin of the Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain, whose basilica I had the pleasure of visiting, fulfilling my wish of kneeling as a devout son of Mary before Her sacred Column. This venerable Shrine, built on the banks of the Ebro River, is a great symbol of the presence of Mary since the beginning of the preaching of the Good News in the Iberian Peninsula.
According to an ancient local tradition, the Virgin appeared to James the Apostle in Zaragoza to console him, and she promised him her help and maternal assistance in his works of Apostolic preaching. Even more, as a signal of protection she left him a marble Column that, through the centuries has given the Shrine its name. Since then, Our Lady of Pilar in Zaragoza, as it is commonly called in Spain, is considered as the symbol of the firmness, the constancy of the faith of the Spanish people and moreover, it is also an indication of the road that leads to the knowledge of Christ through the Apostolic teaching.
The Spanish Christians have seen in the Pilar a clear analogy with the column that guided the people of Israel in their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Therefore, through the centuries, they have been able to sing "Columnam disciples habemus," we have as a guide a Column that accompanies us to the new Israel."
Before Pope John Paul II, the Popes right from the beginning issued Papal Bulls attesting to the authenticity of the Shrine and Mother Mary's appearance there, accompanied by the Angels.
In the fifteenth century the newly elected Dutch Pope Adrian VI who happened to be in Spain, at the time, made a visit to the Shrine of our Lady of Pilar.
Pope Pius the XII elevated the church of Our Lady of Pilar to the honorable title of Minor Basilica.
Cardinal Roncalli who would later become the unforgettable John XXIII also visited and venerated the Pillar and the image of our Lady of Pilar.
It has been said, though, that Pope John Paul II has gone more deeply into the true significance and importance of the Pillar to the local as well as the Universal Church than any Pope that has preceeded him. The people of Zaragoza have proclaimed, that truly, John Paul II can be called Pope of the Pillar. He has made four visits to the Shrine, two of which were personal.
Veneration to Our lady of the Pilar began 12 years
before the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven.
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. As we said, according to Sr. Mary Agreda, our Lady was 57 years old when this miracle occurred. We are also told in The City of God that our Lady was assumed into Heaven when She was 67 years old. Her apparition in Zaragoza, 12 or 13 years before our Lady's Assumption, was the only one we know of that took place prior to Mary's heavenly journey with Her Son, to be united eternally with God Her Father, Christ her Son and the Holy Spirit Her Spouse.
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, when you enter this towering church dedicated to our Lord through His Mother Mary. But when you kneel in the Chapel, before the holy image of Mother Mary, receive Her Son our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and go to the back of the Chapel and kiss the pillar held and molded by the Angels, that's when Bob and I fall apart, as do the thousands of pilgrims who have gone with us.
Did our Lord need His Mother to go to Saint James to bring him His message to return to Jerusalem to be martyred? We believe not, because we know He is all powerful and can make His Will known in any way He wills. But the truth is, He has been using His Mother since this time to now, to do just that.
Did our Lady need the Angels to transport Her to Saint James? Why could She not have bi-located like many of the Saints that have followed Her? We believe She travelled like the Queen She is, with Her Royal Escorts, as befits the greatest Queen who ever lived. And also, to teach Her children, us, that we can go through life alone, falling and rising and falling again, or journey as She did, as sons and daughters of the King of all, as princes and princesses on the way to our heavenly kingdom, with our Heavenly Escorts.
The Spanish people, every day, at every hour, sing to their Patroness the traditional invocation:
"Blessed and praised be the hour in which Blessed Mary came in mortal flesh to Zaragoza."
Taken from "The Many Faces of Mary - Our Lady of Pilar" book II