Feast day October 12
The Virgin Mary's Apparition to Apostle Saint James the Greater 40 AD
The first recorded Marian apparition occurred while the Blessed Virgin Mary was still on earth. According to tradition, the Apostle Saint James the Greater (brother of Saint John the Evangelist) was sent by Saint Peter to Spain to evangelize the Gentiles of that province. While praying by the banks of the Ebro at Saragossa, the Holy Mother of God bilocated and appeared to the Apostle. She instructed him to build a church there, which he did.
Tradition places Saint James in Spain for about 5 years in the latter half of the AD 30s. Local tradition identifies the date as Saturday January 2, AD 40 on the Julian Calendar. It’s an established fact that Saint James the Greater was martyred in Jerusalem around AD 44. This entails that the traditional date is within a reasonable range both for Saint James to travel to Spain and to return to Jerusalem by AD 44.
Why did Saint James the Greater receive this great privilege of the first Marian apparition? Christ chose Saint James to be His first Apostolic martyr. It seems then that this vision was meant to strengthen and console Saint James. In fact, Maria Agreda states that Saint James was allowed a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary as he was being martyred and that she personally escorted Saint James’ soul to the judgment seat of Christ.
In this light, Saint James the Greater is very much like the 20th century martyr Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe who consecrated his life to Jesus through Mary and found strength there to offer his body in the oblation of martyrdom.

Hail, Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar, conceived without sin, I come to venerate and worship you above all the angels and saints in heaven as my Queen, my Lady, and my dearest Mother. I firmly resolve to serve you always, and to do what I can that all may render faithful service to you. Most Holy Mary, through your kind intercession and by your own merits, obtain for me from your Divine Son Jesus, our Lord and Savior, all the graces I need for the eternal salvation of my soul. Therefore, most devoted Mother of mothers, through the Precious Blood which your Son shed for us, I humbly beseech thee to receive me among your devotees, and to accept me as your servant forever. Help me in my every thought, action word and deed, never to be displeasing in your sight and in the sight of your Son, our Lord and Redeemer. Think of me always, my dear Lady of the Pillar, and do not forsake me in the hour of my death. Amen.

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