While Our Lady of Guadalupe is beloved throughout the Americas, particularly by Catholics of Mexican descent, a much older manifestation of the Virgin Mary also has special ties to Hispanic peoples. In the Spanish city of Zaragoza, Our Lady of Pilar has been drawing worshippers since the earliest years of the church. Some believe, in fact, that this is the oldest shrine in the world dedicated to the Mother of God.
Along with Santiago de Compostela—where the remains of St. James are said to lie—Zaragoza is the most important pilgrimage destination in Spain and is part of the popular Marian pilgrimage route that passes through Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal.
During his two visits to the shrine, Pope John Paul II affirmed Our Lady of Pilar’s role as the “Mother of the Hispanic Peoples,” a title that recognizes her importance not only to Spain, but also to the entire New World. Today she beckons the faithful as she has for nearly 2000 years, calling her children home to this picturesque and historic city in northeastern Spain.
For information from the Tourist Office of Spain, see www.spain.info.
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Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.