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N S DEL PILAR or St James the prequel

Don Camillo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 04-16
Norte/Primitivo 09-16
VdlP/ Sanabres 02/3-17
Levante 09/17,
Ruta de la Lana 09/18
Sunday 24th September 2018. Ruta de La Lana, north of Palazuelos, a coin hot under the midday sun on a sandy farm track. It caught my eye, dull bronze against light sand, regular outline against irregular stone.
This though was not a coin but a button. A cursory visual scan revealed three figures and some writing, too small too make out fully. However later inspection revealed a central female holding a baby atop a pillar with two kneeling characters either side holding staves with what appeared to be gourds on top. The words “ N S DEL PILAR” spaced around the uppermost edge.
Research revealed that this was shorthand for “Nuestra Senora del Pilar” or “Our Lady of the Pillar”. And a story emerged, it could be entitled “St James – the prequel” because it turn's out to be the pilot episode for the St James and Santiago Compostela story that is familiar to us. And I was to learn something because you can teach an old pilgrim new tricks.

The button showed the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus whilst standing on a pillar. Either side of her are two kneeling pilgrims holding the traditional staff with gourd.
This button probably dates back to around 1800 – 1820 maybe later but certainly well south of 1900.
It indirectly alludes to an appearance before the apostle James by the River Ebro at Zaragoza of the Virgin Mary standing on a pillar flanked by choirs of angels. “Sustained and inspired by this miracle, James erected round the pillar the first church ever to be dedicated to the virgin, and shortly afterwards returned to Jerusalem where he was beheaded by a Roman sword in about the year AD 44*”
From Jerusalem what remained of St. James body (and head) was taken by ship across the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and up to the Bay of Padron to then be taken then to the cave/tomb around which a town later established – “Campo de la Estella – the field of the star – later shortened to Compostela* “
A button less than a centimetre in diameter revealed a story that stretched from Jerusalem to Santiago Compostela. Far from overlooking Zaragoza in my understanding of St James and the Camino I had not even registered it prior to finding that button. I sought to rectify that in March 2020 intending to walk from the Ebro estuary along the Camino Ebro as far as Zaragoza to visit the cathedral built around the church established by St James. Pilgrim Don Camillo intended to pay his respects. But I guess we all know what happened that month and my plans like everyone else's were put on hold.

Still are.

Don.

*Source. The Pilgrimage to Santiago. Edwin Mullins. Secker and Warburg 1974.
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
I sought to rectify that in March 2020 intending to walk from the Ebro estuary along the Camino Ebro as far as Zaragoza to visit the cathedral built around the church established by St James
If you start the Ruta del Ebro at San Jaume d'Enveja near the Ebro delta, you will be starting from where Santiago is believed to have left Spain for the last time (alive).

And if you get to Zaragoza for the fiestas del Pilar on October 12th, you will be entitled to a plenary indulgence. You'll also be able to enjoy the remarkable 10 day long fiestas, a raucous mixture of music, exhibitions, street food, parades, a flower mountain, corridas, theatre, new wine etc.

Pilgrims, including John-Paul II and Alexander VI, whose family came from and still held land at nearby Borja, have made their "besa" at the remains of the jasper pillar around which the cathedral is constructed. Overhead are frescoes by the young Goya, and there are some later works by the local lad in the Ibercaja collection nearby.
 
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John Brierley Camino Frances Guide
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Anthony Rocco

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Ignaciano, Aragones, Arle, Tolosana, Salvador, Primitivo, Madrid, Olvidado/Invierno (2020)
Sunday 24th September 2018. Ruta de La Lana, north of Palazuelos, a coin hot under the midday sun on a sandy farm track. It caught my eye, dull bronze against light sand, regular outline against irregular stone.
This though was not a coin but a button. A cursory visual scan revealed three figures and some writing, too small too make out fully. However later inspection revealed a central female holding a baby atop a pillar with two kneeling characters either side holding staves with what appeared to be gourds on top. The words “ N S DEL PILAR” spaced around the uppermost edge.
Research revealed that this was shorthand for “Nuestra Senora del Pilar” or “Our Lady of the Pillar”. And a story emerged, it could be entitled “St James – the prequel” because it turn's out to be the pilot episode for the St James and Santiago Compostela story that is familiar to us. And I was to learn something because you can teach an old pilgrim new tricks.

The button showed the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus whilst standing on a pillar. Either side of her are two kneeling pilgrims holding the traditional staff with gourd.
This button probably dates back to around 1800 – 1820 maybe later but certainly well south of 1900.
It indirectly alludes to an appearance before the apostle James by the River Ebro at Zaragoza of the Virgin Mary standing on a pillar flanked by choirs of angels. “Sustained and inspired by this miracle, James erected round the pillar the first church ever to be dedicated to the virgin, and shortly afterwards returned to Jerusalem where he was beheaded by a Roman sword in about the year AD 44*”
From Jerusalem what remained of St. James body (and head) was taken by ship across the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and up to the Bay of Padron to then be taken then to the cave/tomb around which a town later established – “Campo de la Estella – the field of the star – later shortened to Compostela* “
A button less than a centimetre in diameter revealed a story that stretched from Jerusalem to Santiago Compostela. Far from overlooking Zaragoza in my understanding of St James and the Camino I had not even registered it prior to finding that button. I sought to rectify that in March 2020 intending to walk from the Ebro estuary along the Camino Ebro as far as Zaragoza to visit the cathedral built around the church established by St James. Pilgrim Don Camillo intended to pay his respects. But I guess we all know what happened that month and my plans like everyone else's were put on hold.

Still are.

Don.

*Source. The Pilgrimage to Santiago. Edwin Mullins. Secker and Warburg 1974.
We walked the Ebro in 2016...but went from west to east since we were walking the Camino Ignaziano, which starts in Loyola and ends in Manresa. There are so many wonderful places along this route, including Zaragoza. We fell in love with the place and stayed two days. The cathedral itself is breaktaking. Be sure to go to the other side of the river for the best photo. I use that photo as the first slide of my presentations on the Ignaziano and it always results in oohs and ahhs. The shrine itself is very moving as Hispanic faithful from around the world gather there. Mass is every hour on the hour. Keep in mind that for over 200 years, the pilgrimage to Zaragoza, starting in France, crossing the Pyrenees at Somport and following what is now the Camino Aragones (which we also have walked and is a must for those who wish to do more than the Frances). Read the history of the period of Alphonso X, an amazing ruler who popularized the Zaragoza pilgrimage and was also responsible for some of the most mesmerizing music of the medieval period. We were fortunate to attend an evening of this music performed at the Morgan Library in New York several years ago. Finally, getting a sello (stamp) was an obsession of mine since everyone else I had spoken with failed to get one. I succeeded, but only after searching throughout the cathedral. On entry, go past past where mass is conducted and keep going till you see wide, side area with a person at a desk. Across from him is a room with a priest who has the stamp. He is not always there, so ask the person at the desk when he is. I finally got to him and it was fun as he delivered a homily to me only before stamping my pilgrim passport. This gave it all the more meaning. I cherish that sello as the most valuable one in all my passports.
 

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