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Catholic Dictionary


SARAGOSSA (shrine)


Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar, near Saragossa in northeastern Spain, where Mary is said to have appeared in early Christian times, asking that a church be built there in her honor. After the vision, the jasper pillar on which she stood remained and it became a most coveted relic. A church was built as requested and the pillar was enshrined within it. It is a six-foot-high stone column almost completely unadorned, now nearly encased in silver. On top of it is an ancient black wooden statue of Mary about fifteen inches tall, covered with gold leaf. So varied is her wardrobe that she wears different attire every day. The devotion to Our Lady of the Pillar, initiated at Saragossa, was brought to the New World by the Spanish explorers, and their missions boast of many miracles worked through Mary's favor. Some of the most incredible ones at the mother shrine have been authenticated by sworn testimony. The Virgin of the Pillar is recurrent as a theme in prayer, songs, and patriotic expressions. She was often invoked in battle emergencies. The heart of Don John of Austria, the Christian victor at Lepanto, rests near the sacred pillar in this sanctuary.