zamboanga nuestra señora la vigen del pilar

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Nuestra Seora Del Pilar

Zamboanga City

Historical Background

The people of Zamboanga have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother, especially to La Virgen del Pilar, whose Image they venerate there.Of the many inimitable temptations and fascinating charms of Zamboanga, none can be compared to the miraculous Virgin of Pilar in the historic Fort.So great is the fame of devotion to the Lady of the Fort that the annual celebration of her feast on October 12 has greatly outstripped the City's official feast day. This has made the Virgin of Pilar the actual patroness of Zamboanga City, instead of the Immaculate Conception whose feast is celebrated on December 8.

The fort was known as ''The Fort of Saint Joseph'', and served the double purpose of a fortress and a penitentiary.In 1662 the fort were abandoned by the Spanish garrisons which sailed for Manila to help defend that city from the threat of the powerful Chinese pirate Kuesing. The forts were totally destroyed in 1663 to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Moros.

After its reconstruction, the Fort was renamed the Real Fuerza de Nuestra Seora del Pilar de Zambaonga. It carried that name until 1899. Sometime before 1860 the side of the Fort where the statue was located, was converted into a permanent shrine. For this reason the main entrance was sealed.

The Marian Image honored in the Fort is a small replica of Our Lady copied from the original Nuestra Seora del Pilar in Saragossa, Spain. The Blessed Virgin is shown standing in a pillar, carrying the Child Jesus on her left arm, while she holds her cape around her with her right hand. She wears an Imperial Crown upon her head.

Today Fort Pilar is no longer a military outpost. It has become one of the principal Marian Shrines in Mindanao. It is also a center of religious pilgrimages.Immediately after the liberation when there was already a certain degree of order and security Zamboanga hastened to the Fort Pilar on Saturday April 28, 1645, to offer a Mass of Thanksgiving and to sing the triumphant hymn of Te Deum. The joyful celebration on October 12, 1960 when the Image of Nuestra Seora La Virgen del Pilar de Zamboanga was canonically crowned.

Fort Pilar Shrine

Real Fuerza de Nuestra Seora del Pilar de Zaragosa

After eating aSattibreakfast at one of the Satti shops inPilar Street, morning finds us strolling the streets ofZambaonga Cityending up at the imposing structure by the Zamboanga Peninsula Seas, which is the historicalFort Pilar. This venerable fort founded in 1635 yet still proudly stands strong until now, represents the rich colonial history of this region of our country.

An outdoor Marian shrine

We entered an open gate at the back of the Fort where an amount of human traffic can be seen going in and out of the premise. It was the entrance to a one of a kind outdoor shrine holding open air mass. The mid morning sun was already beaming its warm light on this holy ground and walls and also to the flock of devotees, equipped with their own umbrellas and sun shields, who were already on their feet and queuing towards the altar for their individual religious ritual with holy water.

Our Lady of the Pilar Shrine details

At the focal point of the area, and where the pathways created from the concrete pews seem to point, is the miraculous statue ofOur Lady of the Pillarcan be found facing the rising sun. This statue of the Virgin Mary was said to have miraculously appeared on a pillar in Zaragoza, Spain, onOctober 12, 1492. This paved way to the Christianization of some of the Hispanics from the Moros in which the fort was defending against. On the same day, the feast day ofOur Lady of the Pillarwas declared and became the citys Patron Saint.

To whom the bell tolls

There is so much history about Zamboanga Citys Fort Pilar that I didnt know. I guess our historians are mostly focused in Manila and very few Spanish history in the South. For a region deeply rooted in Islamic traditions, Zamboanga City is the seat of Christianization in Mindanao. Under the Spanish rule, sea expeditions were launched to fight the Moro Pirates, and at the near end of the Spanish revolution, it was a Zamboanga born hero Vicente S. Alvarezwho unseated the mighty ruler ship of the Spaniards. And around the 1900-1920s the US government established a short lived form of government where Zamboanga was the Seat of the Government. So for a while a Republic of Zamboanga was established.

Candles and prayers

Beside the open area church at the east side of the Fort, the inner structure was converted into a museum, unfortunately for us, it was a Sunday and the museum was closed. So we just decided to go around the area and take pictures and observe the local folks.

Wish upon a burning candle

On the left of the altar is an area where you can offer prayers along with the burning candles. There were different colors of candles which symbolizes in different meanings. It was interesting as well that during prayer, people would open and close their palms above the flames for a while.

Religious items sold outside the church

Outside the walls of the fort, like most other churches in the country, have a few stalls selling some religious items as well as food. It was really interesting visiting this place. If Manila hasIntramuros, Zamboanga City hasFort Pilarwhich isnt short of historical and religious significance as well.

Short moment of Silence


Lightning of Prayers

Coldness and Fear

Irresponsible and Unstable

Anger, Danger and Warning

Envy, Jealousy and Guilt

Seeking for Goodness and Purity