For the 235 OFW’s from Tarragona and Barcelona, who made a romería (pilgrimage) to this Marian sanctuary last Sunday, July 18, 2010, St. Josemaría’s wish came true. Everybody was captivated by the serenity and the prayerful atmosphere of this secular Marian dedication in Altoaragón, where an 11th—century Romanesque image of Mary with the Child Jesus on Her lap (an image also known as Mary, Seat of Wisdom), is venerated. This Marian temple, promoted by the Founder of Opus Dei, was opened for the cult since 1975 and has drawn thousands of pilgrims each year.
As the five buses that transported some 85 OFW’s from Tarragona and 150 from Barcelona started to escalate the winding road that leads to the sanctuary, almost everyone sighed at the sight of the bright blue-colored water of a deep pantano (a reservoir or lake for the purpose of irrigation) that serves as the perfect background of the temple that appears light-reddish under the rays of a noontime summer sun.
From the road, ruins of a medieval tower which stands over the Cinca river could be appreciated near an ermita or an old chapel where for more than nine centuries, pilgrims venerate the Marian icon. According to a medieval document, “Civitas” is the name Muslim invaders gave to the bulwark (a solid wall-like structure raised for defense) that they had which they used to defend themselves from Christians who wanted to recover their territories. In 1084, the Christians, once recuperated the Aragón area, enthroned the image of the Virgin Mary in the Ermita, beside what was then called “Turris Civitas” (tower city); hence, the name Torreciudad (in Spanish).
In 1904, Josemaría was two years old when a deadly sickness struck him to the point that the doctors diagnosed he would not survive the next morning. His mother, Dolores, pleaded the Blessed Virgin and promise to offer the child in a pilgrimage to Our Lady if She would cure him.
After the sumptuous lunch, the Tarragona pilgrims presented various folk dances and Filipino songs. After which, a video on the visit of Monsignor Javier Echevarría, the actual Prelate of Opus Dei, to the Philippines in 1998, gave the pilgrims some ideas on the apostolate that the personal prelature is doing in the archipelago.
“We must do it again next year”, said one couple who live in Tarragona. “Ay, sayang, hindi ako nakasama”, (What a regret having missed the occasion!) said one lady, to which a cheerful señora retorted: “You don’t know what you’ve missed!”