June 17, 2010.
The shrines of Pilar, Torreciudad, Montserrat and Lourdes have formed an association to promote pilgrimages.
It is called “Ruta Mariana” or “Marian's Route” and it encourages devotion to the Virgin with an itinerary that covers four shrines in Spain and France. On its website it gives pilgrims the necessary information to plan a trip to these places.
“Ruta Mariana” develops with the support of regional governments. The association looks to publicize the touristic value of these pilgrimage sites and their environment.
The basilica of Pilar in Zaragoza is a baroque temple which tradition considers to be the world's first Marian sanctuary. According to tradition, in this basilica is a preserved and venerated pillar put up for the Virgin, who appeared to the apostle Saint James during Christianity's first years of growth.
Torreciudad's shrine is one of the most visited places of the Spanish Pyrenees. It welcomes mass pilgrimages, such as Marian Day of Families. The sanctuary's construction was started by the founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaría Escrivá.
The shrine of Lourdes attracts more than 6 million pilgrims from five continents each year. The Virgin Mary appeared at this grotto in 1858. It is famous for its spring water which attracts many sick in search of healing.
Montserrat's shrine is in Catalonia, near Barcelona. In addition to being a shrine it is also a Benedictine monastery. The Virgin of Montserrat is the patron of Catalonia. It receives more than 2 million visitors annually.
Now, the name “Ruta Mariana” suggests a new itinerary that combines culture, nature and devotion. Its broad appeal and importance are reflected in the 12 million people the four places together attract each year.