The feast of Nuestra Señora del Pilar merges a religious observance and a secular holiday. Aside from being the patroness of Aragón, Our Lady of the Pillar is also the patroness of Spain and the whole of hispanidad, the term used in reference to all the lands that once belonged to the Spanish Empire, where, it was said, "the sun never sets."
Her feast on October 12 is also the Día de Hispanidad (or, Día de la Raza in some places in Hispanic America, the day Columbus "discovered" the New World), a time when we celebrate the common tie that binds many countries in America, Europe and us here in Asia.
Here's a video I made when I visited the Basilica of the Virgin last year in Zaragoza, Spain on August 15, the feast of the Assumption. You would see the age-old tradition of letting children who have not received their First Communion kiss the cape that covers the sacred pillar where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to St. James the Great (Santiago el Mayor) when the latter was evangelizing Iberia. Other than youngsters, ranking members of the Catholic clergy and the Spanish Royal Family, no one is allowed to enter the camarín of the Virgin.
The pillar, made of jasper 1.70 meters in length and 24 centimeters in diameter, is covered with bronce and silver. It remains covered throughout the year except during the feast of the Virgin.
(Va dedicada esta entrada a todas las Pilares de mi vida, en especial a AlmaLeonor que a pesar de la distancia sigue siendo una gran amiga.)