St. James the Apostle is the Patron Saint of Spain, a country I visited for just less than a week nearly three months ago but hope to go back to in the near future. Legend has it that he went out that ways and his evangelization efforts led to the great displays of faith in Spanish tradition – not the least of which is the amazing basilica at Santiago de Compostela and the Camino del Santiago which leads there. The year before that I visited Fort Santiago in Manila, which was erected also in his honour. The growing influence of Saint James carried through the Spanish colonialism as well, for better or for worse.
On my last day in Spain I visited the city of Zaragoza, the site of Our Lady of the Pillar. As the legend was recounted to me by fellow pilgrims, James was in Spain and becoming discouraged that his preaching was falling on deaf ears. The Virgin Mary appears to him to encourage him and promised that Spain will be a great nation for Christ and he is emboldened to continue his mission which leads to the results as seen all around the land. The pillar on which Mary appears is accessible to pilgrims who line up to kiss it. The cool thing about this Marian apparition was that it was pre-assumption – Mary was living at the time and bi-located! Subsequent apparitions like Lourdes and Fatima were just continuations in events that she had carried out even before her Dormition! I was floored by that realization.
The message of this story served to me as a reminder that our efforts to shine the light of the Gospel to those around us cannot be judged by ourselves. Canada will be a great Christian Nation. America will one day be a great Christian nation. The world will bend its knee at the name of Jesus one day. May we like St. James push forward and continue our mission with Mary’s assurance of God’s glory arriving one day.