The first apparition of Mary, actually took place during her lifetime. On October 12, 40 AD, Mary appeared to Saint James the Apostle, brother of Saint John, on the bank of the River Ebro in Zaragoza also called Saragossa, Spain.
Saint James was having a difficult time converting the people of the area. Mary appeared to him atop a pillar and assured Saint James that these people would eventually be converted and that their faith would be as strong as the pillar she stood on.
Mary then asked Saint James to build a church on the site promising him that it would stand until the end of time. Saint James built a small chapel on the spot and many churches were subsequently built on the site, each one larger than the one before.
Today, the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar one of the most visited pilgrimage destinations in Spain after the completion of the Camino de Santiago.
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Our Lady of the Pillar by Francisco Goya