José Maria de Eça de Queiros is considered one of Portugal’s greatest writers. He’s most famous for his novel The Sin of Father Amaro, first published in 1875.Our Lady of the Pillar, originally published in the Gazeta de Notícias in 1895, is a fantasy story set in Seville Spain in the fifteenth century. Don Rui de Cardenas, a devotee of Our Lady of the Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Mary), falls in love with the beautiful Dona Leonor, the young wife of wealthy nobleman Don Alonso de Lara.
Although Don Rui is smitten with Dona Leonor, he can’t so much as catch her eye as they enter the church. He gives up on his love and devotes himself to honoring Our Lady of the Pillar.
Don Alonso, meanwhile, hears that a young man has been pursuing Dona Leonor and, being quite jealous, has her removed to their estate at Cabril, some ways outside Seville. Don Alonso, enraged at a misperceived infidelity by his young wife, holds her at knife point and forces her to write a letter to Don Rui, professing a love for the young man who, in reality, she has never really noticed.
Don Alonso has the letter delivered to Don Rui, in an effort to lure the young man to the estate, where Don Alonso’s plan is to murder him as he enters Dona Leonor’s bedroom. I don’t want to give away the story, so I’ll just say that the story takes a fantastic twist at this point. This short story is well worth reading and is one of Eça de Queiros’ best works.
Our Lady of the Pillar is a free download at Project Gutenberg. Enjoy.