Monday, November 18, 2013

A Catholic Pilgrimage to Zaragoza

After a short night in Logroño full of delicious La Rioja wines, cañas of beer, and plates pintxos and tapas, it was time to get back on the road and head for the next destination: Barcelona.

But first, a brief stop along the 4 hour drive in Zaragoza.  About halfway between the two cities, Zaragoza is the 5th largest city in Spain.  After reading about the city and possible sights to check out, Zaragoza became the only city in my itinerary that did not have a food-purpose.  Instead, it was a city on our list for a Catholic pilgrimage.

Prior trips to Europe always included cathedrals, churches, etc.  All were amazing, humongous, and inspiring.  And yet after seeing five or so in a few days, they became too many and the Gothic architecture started to all look the same.  While our trip now was completely food-focused, this Catholic pilgrimage in Zaragoza was a requirement for us as a family of practicing Catholics.

Zaragoza is home to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar - the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar.  In January 2, 40AD, St. James (Santiago as he is locally known) saw the Virgin Mary descend atop a marble pillar here in Zaragoza.  This was the only reported apparition of Mary before her Assumption.  On the sight of the pillar, a chapel was built by St. James a year later, followed by the surrounding churches years and centuries later which eventually became what is the Basilica today.  It the first church in history to be dedicated to Blessed Mary.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

Another view of the Basilica

An artist rendition of the the pillar

The plaza surrounding the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

The columns and ceilings in the Basilica

Capilla Santa which holds the hidden pillar

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