Spain has revered the Blessed Virgin Mary since the very origins of Christianity, thanks to the Apostle Saint James who was the first evangelizer of that country. According to early Christian tradition (which wasn't put into writing until the 12th century), the Virgin appeared to the apostle on top of a column. On one of his visits to Spain Pope John Paul II visited the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, so dear to the Spaniards.
Archeologists have also found in Merida a certain "Church of Saint Mary" dating from the 2nd century - anterior to the persecution of Decius (200-251). Following this wave of persecutions, the Christians erected a basilica in honor of the Assumption, on the spot of the apparition at Saragossa. In fact evidence of this basilica is still visible underneath the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar.
At the end of the 5th century Spanish liturgy began to exalt Mary as the New Eve, the Mother of God and our Mother, the Mediatrix of Graces, risen to heaven, an image of the Church itself.
Consequently, Our Lady of the Pillar (Saragossa) ranks among the principal shrines, with Monserrat and Aranzazu.
Let us remember that the reform of the Carmel, started in Avila in the 16th century, was placed under the protection of Our Lady and Saint Joseph.
Cf. Attilio GALLI, Madre della Chiesa dei Cinque continenti, Ed. Segno, Udine, 1997.