October 12th is celebrated as the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar.
This event occurred on this day in 40 AD to Saint James the Greater on his missionary journey in what is now Zaragoza, Spain. She appeared on top of a pillar and with angels to Saint James at the edge of the Ebro River to give him hope in his mission that wasn’t seeing much success. She assured the Apostle that their faith would someday be as strong as the pillar under her feet.
Our Lady of the Pillar is recognized as the first Marian apparition. Although, this event wasn’t actually an apparition like the others because we know that Mary was living with Saint John at this time in Ephesus. It could be more accurately described as a bilocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Lady appeared to Saint James when he was in need of encouragement and strength, and I look to her as a great sign of hope. I find it interesting that she provided an image to honor in a chapel she requested built there. This is one of the few times that a sacred image was left from an apparition, and it is still there for all people to venerate in her basilica.
Many great and holy people have been inspired in this sacred space by the image and the Church. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, is one that I feel closest to among that crowd. The Marianist had a profound impact on my personal formation, and I hope to also visit this holy site in the near future like he did.
Recently, I felt compelled to do a quick painting about this image to give as a gift to an amazing couple that got married on this feast day. It also holds a special place in my heart because it is also my birthday, and a celebration of many Hispanic people.
May the prayers of Our Blessed Mother protect and guide us all.
This is a temporary image until I can upload the high quality version.