Friday, October 12, 2007

Our Lady of The Beneficent Sleep-In

 id=With tears of joy streaming down my face and my soul quickening in profound rapture, I wholly embrace this - the 12th of October - as the first long weekend since I started work last month. Yes, today is Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) when all of Madrid complacently sleeps in and pretty much doesn't give a rat's ass about virgins and pillars. But in other parts of Spain, where these things are taken more seriously, there will be much rejoicing and not just at the opportunity to sleep in.

Our Lady of the Pillar - not to be confused with Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, of Peace, of the Rosary, of Good Health, of the Missions, of Roses, of Sorrows, of the Swan, of Victories, of the Snows, of the Waterfall, of Light, of the Wind, of the Gate of Dawn, of the Annunciation, of the Immaculate Conception, of Remedies, of Consolation, of Good Help, of Prompt Succour, to name but a few - is the patron saint of Spain and of the Hispanic peoples.

One of my students advised me that Franco tried to convert the saint's day into an ersatz España Über Alles Day in which the supremacy of Iberian blood was lorded over the lower (i.e., non-Iberian) orders. My student glibly refers to Nuestra Señora del Pilar as Racism Day which prompts me to have gazpacho for lunch.

If it weren't for the fact that Señor Gato Gringo and I still have 43 grammar exercises to complete for today's Spanish class (callously not cancelled by our godless tutor) and watch a movie in Spanish for today's Spanish class (callously not cancelled by our godless tutor) and attend today's Spanish class (callously not cancelled by our godless tutor), we might have hopped on a train for Zaragoza (pronounced Thathahotha) where all this nonsense about virgins and pillars began one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-seven years ago. On January 2nd, to be exact.

We can thank the tortilla and sangria-loving Spanophile, James the Greater (opposed to James the Not As Important), whose remains floated in a boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they are still venerated at Santiago de Compostella, for much of this virgin-and-pillar brouhaha. For according to legend - rather than anything as tedious as extant historical records - James T.G. was experiencing evangelist's block in Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza [pronounced Thathahotha]) when suddenly - miraculously one might even say - the Virgin appeared to him in the flesh. Sitting demurely atop a pillar which was borne by angels, that Greedy Magpie the Mother of God asked him to build her a sanctuary. Another sanctuary. Like she didn't have enough already. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dear reader: that pillar - that very same pillar - was preserved and is venerated to this day by those who choose not to sleep in at a shrine in Zaragoza (pronounced Thathahotha), where - need I add - miraculous healings have been 'documented'. Because a 2,000 year old pillar which once bore the Mother of God's backside wasn't deemed sufficiently numinous and hallowed, in 1905 a crown was added to the virgin's statue valued, a century ago, at €27,000. Although I don't have a brain for those matters financial, I suspect that its value has gone up somewhat since then.

It would seem that this vision kick started James T.G.'s proselytizing career. Bully for him, I say. James T.G. has been good for Spanish tourism, what with his millennium-old pilgrimage, The Schlep to Santiago and, for those prone to corns and blisters, the less peripatetic feast of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. And for those who don't give a rat's ass about virgins and pillars, the opportunity to sleep in.

12 comments:

squindia said...

'Zaragoza (pronounced Thathahotha'
laughing out loud! thanks for that.

La Gatita Gringa said...

... coming from someone who could blow me out of the water with her stellar pronunciation of the place name 'Algeciras'.

Me and my camera said...

Rather fortuitous that said boat drifted to Spain.

I mean, imagine, had it floated through the Strait of Gibralter, across the Stormy Atlantic to, say, Nova Scotia, we could be celebrating Our Lady of Lower Sackville or something...

Anonymous said...

And we all know that Lower Sackville could do with a Lady.

Me and my camera said...

Don't mock Lower Sackville.

La Gatita Gringa said...

Didn't Our Lady appear at a Tim Horton's there (Nuestra Señora del Timmy Ho-Ho's)or was that Cape Breton?

Me and my camera said...

I'm sure it was the Tim's at Exit 5. A blueberry fritter shaped like The Virgin's head, the dripping blueberry being her blue head-dress...

La Gatita Gringa said...

Kanrf: we must ask Mom. She can ask Ddo. Dodo would know.

Me and my camera said...

Dodo probably has the actual Virgin Mary Bleeding Blueberry Fritter. Or a picture of it, signed by the owner.

Annie said...

Exit 5 is my favourite Tim's...

La Gatita Gringa said...

Never liked Exit 5. Much prefer the Young Street Tim's.

Me and my camera said...

Remember that old Tim's ad with the old lady walking around the blustery grey streets of Lunenberg?

Well, they took the outside shots in Lunenberg, but the stuff inside Tim's was actually shot at the Exit 5 Tim's, because the Lunenberg Tim's at the time wasn't big enough to get all the camera equipment in to shoot a Big Time TV Commercial.

It's a Canadian fact!