On Saturday, January 12, the members of the pro-life movement from Saragossa (Spanish Zaragoza) came to the convent of the Carmelite Sisters In Igualada-Jorba to take over the care of the Częstochowa Icon and take Her to their city 300 kilometres away.
Before 11AM the Black Madonna stood in Saragossa in front of the famous Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar). According to tradition this is the first place in the world where the Virgin Mary appeared on the 2nd of January 40AD, so when she was still alive on Earth. At that time St James the Apostle (the brother of st John called the Greater) came to the Roman town of Cesarea Augusta (today Saragossa). He was disencouraged and was going to return to Jerusalem, because he managed to convert only 8 disciples. On that night they met outside the city walls, on the right bank of the Ebro river. Then they saw Virgin Mary standing on a pillar and She said: (...) At this site, through my prayer and intercession, the power of God the Almighty will do extraordinary miracles and signes, especially for those who will call me in their needs. This pillar will stand here till the end of the world.”
Around the column, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared, St James built a small chapel. Now the pillar stands in the centre of the basilica. It is made of jaspar, without any decorations, it is only covered with silver sheet. It is 177 centimetres tall and has a diameter of 24 cms. On the pillar there is a 38 centimetre tall statue of Our Lady with Infant Jesus, made of black wood. The pillar is the symbol of the stability of faith.
St James the Apostle returned to Jerusalem and there around 44 AD he died as a martyr. His remains were carried to Spain to protect them from the Arab invasion of the Holy Land. His grave is in Santiago de Compostela, which the Częstochowa Icon visited on the 28th of December, the Feast of the Young Martyrs. See: http://www.fromoceantoocean.org/node/461
The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa is considered the first Marian church in the world and one of the most important shrines. It is the biggest Baroque church in Spain. Surrounded with four towers, the tallest in Spain, with its central dome in the ring of ten smaller towers, it is really impressive. Our Lady of the Pillar is the patroness of Spain. Her cult is also very strong in all Spanish-speaking countries, particularly in South America.
The Częstochowa Icon stood in the portal of the Basilica del Pilar where archbishop Manuel Urena Pastor, the metropolitan bishop of Saragossa, was waiting. A procession carried Her to the church and placed in the chapel el Camerin, where the pillar with the statue of Our Lady is situated.
Archbishop Urena preached to a big gathering of the faithful. He spoke about the defence of human life, marriage and family. He reminded the listeners that in 1920, after the October Revolution, it was Russia that as the first country in the world legalised abortion. And now the peregrination of the Częstochowa Icon started in Russia, as far as Vladivostock. Next the congregation said the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
The next event of the pilgrimage was a procession with the Częstochowa Icon along the main streets of Saragossa to the basilica of Santa Engracja. Here the Icon of Our Lady was taken down to the crypt where there are ruins of a church from the 4th century and the remains of many martyrs from the Roman time. The Icon stayed in the crypt till 5.30PM. This was the time for individual adoration. The crypt, which can contain about 200 people was full with people all the time.
At 5.30PM the Black Madonna was carried back to the upper church of the basilica of Santa Engracja. The Holy Mass was presided over by the Pastor of Families of the Saragossa Diocese. He also said the sermon. After the Mass the Icon came back to the crypt where the Holy Rosary in defence of life and family was said. At the end of the celebrations there was the blessing with the Most Blessed Sacrament.
At 7.30PM in a torrential rain there was a farewell ceremony and the Life Mobil left for Teruel.
O Mary, the Virgin of the Pillar, who deemed to bestow on Saint James, Her beloved desciple, the grace of seeing You to encourage his heart with the promise of victory over paganism, and to generously bless his effort of spreading the True Catholic Faith - maintain us, the children of the same Faith, in our victory over our numerous enemies and over paganism, which nowadays is taking such a numerous toll.
This Prayer is said in October – on all Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as during the Novenna before the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Pillar, on the 12th of October.