Spain’s traditions and especially Spain’s fiestas have always remained a mystery to me. I’m not one to complain about days off work for obscure reasons and even less about long bank holiday weekends but all these virgins are making me dizzy. There is the virgen del pilar, virgen del almudena, virgen de no se que and virgen de no se cuando. I was raised under the impression that there was only just the one virgin. I mean how many times in History can you get out of an unwanted pregnancy by pretending that it was the Holy Ghost’s juicy spirit that got you and not that hot sheep herder.
Spain’s obsession with Christianity goes way back but there is just not enough worth-celebrating biblical hoopla to fill a year. So what is a good catholic in need of long weekends to do but rummage through the bins of History?
Once upon a time, the Blessed Virgin Mary, grieving the death of her one of a kind son, was about to ascend. It was time. She could, soon, rightfully take her place in Heaven and meet the father of her child. Suddenly and for no reason, she found herself in Zaragoza, standing in front of who would soon become Saint James the Great, blazing in the light of the All-powerful – it was her first time. The first time ever she appeared to a mere mortal. The addiction started here. She would soon found herself appearing all over the place: Italy, Mexico, Belgium, France, Rwanda, Japan, Ecuador, Etc… She couldn’t help herself, the temptation was too great. But let’s go back to Zaragoza.
She left Little Jamie in a blaze of fire, leaving behind her a pillar that was to be cherished and worshipped for millennia to come. Flabbergasted by such a vision, Jamie built a cathedral in her honour and carved a statue that would forever represent his gratitude. And so the legend of Our Lady of the Pillar was born. Years went by, decades, entire centuries and as the city found itself under the bombs of the enemy; they thought that all hope was lost. But Mary was there, watchful. One of the bombs crashed through the ceiling of the cathedral and the city, breathless, was awaiting the explosion. An explosion that was not to be. Once again, Mary had shown her benevolence.
Little Jamie always felt special. She offered him her first apparition, even before she had her Assumption. No one could take that away from him. She went onto travelling the world, showing up unexpectedly all over the place, blessing the unblessed, helping the helpless and loving the loveless. And one of her became a hundred. Our Lady of the Pillar, of the Snow, of Mount Carmel, of Walsingham, of Guadalupe, of Lourdes, Etc… and when she ran out of places she continued with object: the Miraculous Medal, the Statue of the Almudena, Etc…
Our Blessed Virgin Mary, in her grandeur, grants us days off all over the world. So that we can rest from our hard labour, so that we can spend time with our loved ones, so that we can go out, have a gin and tonic and shag some hot Spaniards.