"Are you mad going to Spain in July and August?" I hear you cry. "Madder than you think", I reply. I've been in the inferno that is Madrid in high summer, but this year I'm pushing my luck a bit — I'm going to Andalucía!
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Kissing the virgin's pillar
According to Catholic mythology, the Virgin descended from heaven on a marble pillar to give a message to St James the Apostle who was then in Zaragoza. To commemorate the occasion, they built a church around the remains of the pillar. The church was later expanded into the fabulous baroque Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Venerate and kiss the oval orifice
You can see the actual pillar (authenticated by generations of bishops who know about these things) in a special chapel within the basilica, the Capilla Santa. The pious can kiss the Virgin's prop through a hole on the outside wall of the chapel (still inside the basilica). To get your mouth at the right level you have to kneel, then lean forward and put your lips to the oval-shaped orifice.
About half the basilica is open for visits by the public. In the open half I counted 27 money boxes where the faithful can contribute to the coffers of Mother Church.