Last Sunday in May

Virgen del Portillo, Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain

In 1118, after 400 years of Islamic rule, Imad ad-Dawla ceded Zaragoza to Alfonso I "the Battler" of Aragon after a siege. The following March, Muslim forces trying to retake the city opened a breach (portillo) in its wall. In the night sky, rallying Christians saw a radiance coming from the wall, with an image of Our Lady. On arriving at the breach, they found the ground piled with dead invaders. In honor of the Virgin's having marshaled angelic hosts to defend the city, King Alfonso ordered a chapel built there, with her statue set in the breach. The building has undergone several major reconstructions in its 900-year history. The baroque church of 1702 is now home to a cosmopolitan congregation including many immigrants from South America.

The foot-high alabaster image occupies an elaborate altarpiece moved to the Portillo Church from the Dominican friary on its destruction in the revolution of 1868. Our Lady holds the child against her with her left arm, in nursing position. Her carved garments include a starry floor-length tunic, a robe, a veil, and a long mantle tied with cords. Like Zaragoza's most famous Virgin, Our Lady of the Pillar, she stands on a draped jasper column, surrounded by a sculpted radiance. 

Celebrated without interruption from the 1400s until the Spanish Civil War and recently resumed, the Virgin's romería takes place on the last Sunday in May. City officials welcome pilgrims to the chapel at 8:30 a.m. After prayers and songs, the procession leaves the church, following the cross, a replica of the Virgin's statue (right), and a banner reading "For a diverse community and peace in the city." Crossing through the Old Town, the group stops at St. Paul's Church, whose parishioners join the march, doing their traditional dance del Gancho along the way to the Plaza del Portillo, where representatives of many countries pray to the Virgin on behalf of their homelands, while a floral offering is presented in the church. Celebrations continue with music, games, dancing, refreshments, and holy mass. The Virgin's replica also participates in the processions of Holy Week. 

Photo of processional replica by Jorge Sesé, "Martes Santo 2010. Oracion del Huerto," Flickr - Photo Sharing!


bulletCáritas Diocesana Zaragoza, "La parroquia de Ntra Sra del Portillo con los inmigrantes," Upload & Share PowerPoint presentations and documents,
bulletEduardo Torra De Arana, Guía para visitar los santuarios marianos de Aragón, Ediciones Encuentro, Madrid, 1996
bullet"La virgen del Portillo recorrerá las calles de Zaragoza en Romería," May 29, 2010, Pasión en Zaragoza,

Also commemorated this date:

bulletNuestra Señora de la Alborada, Guayaquil, Ecuador
bulletNotre-Dame de l'Espérance, Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, France
bulletBoldogasszony, Karancsság, Nógrád, Northern Hungary, Hungary
bulletMadonna della Rocchetta, Lerma, Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy
bulletMadonna della Salute, Roveredo di Guà, Verona, Veneto, Italy
bulletMadonna del Pilastro, Gragnano Trebbiense, Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
bulletMadonna del Carmelo, Vetralla, Viterbo, Latium, Italy 
bulletMadonna della Misericordia, Cantalice, Rieti, Latium, Italy
bulletMadonna dell'Immaginetta, Monte San Giovanni in Sabina, Rieti, Latium, Italy (Madonna of the Little Image). Festa.
bulletMadonna di Maggio, Sant'Oreste, Roma, Latium, Italy
bulletNostra Signora del Buoncammino, Buddusò, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy
bulletMadonna della Speranza, Battipaglia, Salerno, Campania, Italy
bulletSanta Maria di Fonti, Tricarico, Potenza, Basilicata, Italy
bulletMadonna del Monte, Salandra, Matera, Basilicata, Italy
bulletMadonna della Grotta, Cirigliano, Matera, Basilicata, Italy
bulletSS. Maria Incoronata, Apricena, Foggia, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna della Ricotta, Carlantino, Foggia, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna della Serra, Giuggianello, Lecce, Apulia, Italy
bulletMaria Ausiliatrice, Monteroni, Lecce, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna della Coltura, Parabita, Lecce, Apulia, Italy
bulletMadonna dell'Aiuto, Buonvicino, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
bulletMadonna dei Fiori, Mandatoriccio, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
bulletMadonna del Buon Consiglio, San Giacomo di Cerzeto, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy (Madonna of Good Counsel). Diocesan sanctuary.
bulletMadonna Santa Spina, Taverna, Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy
bulletMaria Santissima della Margana, Pantelleria, Trapani, Sicily, Italy
bulletMadonna dei Casi Disperati, Carini, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
bulletSanta Maria dell'Aiuto, Catania, Catania, Sicily, Italy
bulletMadonna della Consolazione, Paternò, Catania, Sicily, Italy. Festa.
bulletMaria Ausiliatrice, Piazza Armerina, Enna, Sicily, Italy
bulletVor Frue, Birkerød, Frederiksborg, Zealand, Netherlands
bulletOnze Lieve Vrouw ter Linde, Oisterwijk, North Brabant, Netherlands
bulletOur Lady of Hope, Pag-asa, Quezon City, Philippines
bulletMatka Sprawiedliwości i Miłości Społecznej, Piekary Śląskie, Silesia, Poland (Mother of Justice and Social Love)
bulletKrólowej Rodzin, Wambierzyce, Lower Silesia, Poland
bulletNossa Senhora da Ribeira, Quintaninha, Bragança, Norte, Portugal
bulletNossa Senhora do Livramento, Barcelos, Braga, Norte, Portugal, Fragoso district (Our Lady of Release)
bulletNossa Senhora da Saúde, Póvoa do Varzim, Porto, Norte, Portugal (Our Lady of Health)
bulletNossa Senhora da Esperança, Alcáçovas, Viana do Alentejo, Évora, Portugal (Our Lady of Hope)
bulletNuestra Señora de la Providencia, La Providencia, Gijón, Asturias, Spain
bulletVirgen de Montesclaros, Reinosa, Campoo, Cantabria, Spain. Fiesta de la Rosa.
bulletVirgen de la Peña, Congosto, León, Castile and León, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Estrella, Mosqueruela, Teruel, Aragon, Spain
bulletVirgen de Bañales, Uncastillo, Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain
bulletVirgen del Río, Berdejo, Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain
bulletNuestra Señora del Tanquito, Cardón, Pájara, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Consolación, Hernán Pérez, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Antígua, Mestanza, Ciudad Real, Castilla la Mancha, Spain. Romería.
bulletVirgen de la Encarnación, El Hito, Cuenca, Castilla la Mancha, Spain (Our Lady of the Incarnation)
bulletVirgen de la Salceda, Tendilla, Guadalajara, Castilla la Mancha, Spain (Our Lady of the Willow Grove). Romería.
bulletVirgen del Pino, Niebla, Huelva, Andalucía, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Victoria, Martos, Jaén, Andalucía, Spain
bulletMaría Auxiliadora, Alcora, Canjáyar, Almería, Andalucía, Spain (Mary the Helper)
bulletVirgen de la Fe, Las Barreras, Órgiva, Almería, Andalucía, Spain (Virgin of the Faith)
bulletVirgen de la Arrixaca, Murcia, Murcia, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Rogativa, Moratalla, Murcia, Spain. Romería.
bulletQueen of Pokuttya, Tysmenytsia, Tysmenytskyi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly