Every time the Virgin Mary appears to someone she gets a new name. And she always looks a little different so there are many depictions. The name associated with Santiago’s Marian apparition is Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Lady of the Pillar, and she is depicted with a radiant golden crown. Santiago, or St. James the greater, one of the twelve apostles, came to the Iberian peninsula to preach the gospel and he is the patron saint of both Spain and Portugal but they revere the Virgen Del Pilar more and today, October 12th, is her feast day. It coincides with Columbus Day and is celebrated as the national holiday of Spain, the “Fiesta Nacional de España.”
So it’s a feast day and a celebration of a genocide with a military parade in Madrid that costs 800,000 euros. We walked twenty two miles to Astorga and were too spaced out to figure out how the holy day/holiday was being celebrated. The shops were all closed and groups of people were on the street in traditional garb. We bought some wine and Tejas de Almendra and took them back to our room to toast the Virgin del Pilar.