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Puerto Rico's Wooden Saints: Images of
The Virgin of the Pillar

Virgen del Pilar
Carlos Santiago, tallador


How does the cult of the Virgin of the Pillar originate?
This tradition originates from an event that ocurred forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, when the Apostol John found himself with his disciples by the banks of the Ebro river when he "heard voices of angels singing Ave María, gratia plena and witnessed an appearance of the Virgin Mary Mother of Christ standing on top of a pillar made of marble. The Virgin Mary, who was still alive at the time, asked John to build a church at that location, with an altar around the pillar where whe was standing. The Virgin Mary disappeared and the pillar remained. A Book of Miracles exists that lists all the miraculous healing events attributed the worshippers of the Virgin of the Pillar. Her cult is centered around Zaragoza, Spain and she is considered the patron of Spanish-speaking people.

The image of the Virgin of the Pillar in the wooden-saint carving tradition
The Virgin of the Pillar appears in carved images, as it does in paintings and sculpture, as Mary holding the infant Jesus with her left hand, standing on a circular pillar.