The wind at Torreciudad still cries Mary

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Near the small Spanish town of Barbastro is an ancient shrine to Mary called affectionately “Torreciudad” (Tower City). The tower was used by Muslims in the 900s to watch for Christian invaders of the region of Aragon, near the Pyrenees Mountains (remember The Song of Roland?). An image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was re-discovered there in the 1100s,  and was set up for veneration and protection at the spot. St. Josemaria Escriva was born near here in 1902, and his mother offered him as a child to Mary after a miraculous cure of the infant Josemaria. The current shine pictured above is from the 1970s, and maintains the ancient Islamic architecture, bold, austere and simple, and with a new tower.

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St. Josemaria returned to the new Shrine of Torreciudad as it was being constructed in 1970. He wrote some loving words to the Blessed Virgin and venerated the original image, now fully restored. It is a guilded “Black Madonna” typical of the Romanic period of the Middle Ages. The Virgin sits on a throne holding the Child Jesus, both in loving authority of the universe (hence the throne). St. Josemaria wrote the caption “My Mother and Lady of Torreciudad, Queen of the Angels. Show us you are a Mother…” He signed the caption “Mariano” which was one of his middle names. Though he died before the finishing of the new shrine, he was able to consecrate the altar and use the confessionals at his visit in 1975.

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I was ordained a priest at Torreciudad in 2002, and recently was able to return and celebrate Mass there with two brother priests, one from Miami the other from Congo. Though a stormy day, the visit to this ancient shrine was definitely a highlight of my pilgrimage to Spain. Torreciudad is a place where the wind definitely still cries “Mary”…

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