Famous Churches-The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain

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The Legend

The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain

The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar is one of the biggest and most important churches in Spain. St. James the Greater is born the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the Evangelist. According to legend, in the early days of the Church, on January 2, 40 AD, the Apostle James the Greater was proclaiming the Gospel in Caesaraugusta (present day Zaragoza) by the River Ebro, when he saw Mary miraculously appearing in the flesh on a pillar calling him to return to Jerusalem. She gave him a small wooden statue of herself and a column of jasper and told him to build a church in her honor. The pillar is believed to be the same one venerated in Zaragoza, Spain today. Miraculous healings have been reported at the location. James then builds a chapel, the first built in honor of Mary. It was to become the first church in the world that was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The jasper column and the wooden statue can still be seen on special occasions at the church. Before long, the chapel became a center for the conversion of pagans. Because of the apparition and the rapid rise of Christianity, Zaragozaquickly became a major political and commercial center. The simple chapel was often updated, growing in size into the existing Cathedral that was completed about the 17th century. Several chapels and churches were built at the site and destroyed with time.

The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain

The Cathedral

The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain (Interior)

 

The current “The Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar” was built between 1681 and 1686 by the King Carlos II. In 1725 the church commissioned the architect Ventura Rodriguez to transform the building to the Baroque style. The church now measures 130 by 67 meters. There are large corner towers and a central dome surrounded by ten brightly tiled cupolas. There are two domes that were painted with frescoes by Goya. One of them has the Queen of the Martyrs and the second one has the Adoration of the Name of God. The final reconstruction was finished in 1872.


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