Was Mary’s appearance to St. James the Greater in year 40 AD an apparition or bilocation?
There's a wisdom why the Church Historian used the word "apparition" instead of the word "bilocation". Like Ven. Mary of Agreda and St. Padre Pio had a gift of bilocation but to the Theotokos appearances the word "apparition" is always attributed.
Why? Let us not forget that Church Historian must relied on actual accounts and descriptions of the seer or the one who experienced the encounter.It would seems St.James the Greater narrated his encounter with Mary's appearance as apparition because Mary present herself in a "ghostlike" appearance. Remember St. James was an Apostle who saw personally the first appearance of Resurrected Jesus Body.
Thinking He Is a Ghost (24:37-39)
"They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, >'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands >and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and >bones, as you see I have.' " (24:37-39)
The story of apparition happened in 40 AD the accounts seven(a number of perfection) years away from the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit pours out His gifts to empower the Apostles & Disciples to established Christ Church and spread the gospel of salvation.
And Mary was there as a Mother to all the Apostles and Disciples following the command of Jesus At the Foot of the Cross "Woman, behold your son".
The Catholic Church approved the authenticity of this private revelation and for the Church to believed the exact wording of Mary's appearance as "apparition", we all know that the Church guided by the Holy Spirit cannot err.
I believe Mary newly accepted role as Jesus entrusted Her to be the Mother of the Apostles and Disciples and all the future disciples being the Mystical Body of Christ had received the fullness of gifts of the Holy Spirit way above all Apostles and Disciples because Her Immaculate Heart was well-disposed to received the enormous gifts of the Holy Spirit to empower Her new role as the Mother of the Church.
In Book of Acts prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and Disciples with Mary are all united and praying in one body. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated as Jesus commanded them to do it "in remembrance of Him"
"And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to >them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance >of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is >poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
The gifts of the Holy Eucharist is "transfiguration" and the gifts of the Holy Spirit is for Mary to be the Mother of all the Redeemed (Apostles,Disciples,believers).
Now let's look on what the resurrected body or transfigured body and relates it to the word apparition which means "a ghostlike appearance"
What We Learn about Jesus' Resurrected Body
Luke's account tells us several things about the nature of Jesus' resurrected body.
Jesus' resurrected body has definite physical aspects -- flesh, bones, the >ability to eat food, converse intelligently, and walk for miles on a road.
Jesus' resurrected body has a continuity with the previous body before death. >Jesus' wounds in his hands, feet, and side are still clearly visible, and >probably still open rather than healed over, since Thomas suggests putting his >finger into the wounds (John 19:25). This may seem overly descriptive to the >point of being gross. But the Gospel writers are making utterly clear the >nature of a real body, not just the appearance or vision that is not physical >or corporeal.
Jesus' resurrected body is not bound to the physical sphere -- it can appear >and disappear at will. While Jesus' body can relate to the physical world, it >is not bound by space and time.
We don't know a lot more about Jesus' resurrected body than this. But we have a >promise that when Christ returns our earthly remains will be resurrected in the >same way he was (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). - Jesus Appears to His Disciples (Luke 24:36-46)
Mary's appearance to St. James the Greater in the year 40 AD, while She is very much alive means Mary's body was "transfigured or had received the gift of full transformation". Her transfigured body by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the graces derived from the Sacraments of the Holy Mass enable Her to transcend physical limitations of time & space.
For the Saints, the Church rightly affirmed that appearances must be called "bilocation" because the physical qualities remains the same. While for Mary the Mother of the Saviour (Head of the Church) and now Mother of all the Apostles, Disciples and believers the Church (Mystical Body of Jesus) the Church is absolutely correct when it affirmed the accounts of Church Historian that it was an "apparition" meaning Mary appeared to St. James the Greater based on his narrated account is a "ghostlike".
This is the first authentic Marian Apparition and establishes the trademark that Mary is truly the Mother of Church as She help St. James the Greater build Her first Marian Church.
But what is the significant of the "apparition" and the image of the "Our Lady of the Pillar"?
Mary standing atop the pillar or column means the Holy Spirit fully dwells in Her by making a house (Wisdom 9:1). It is also a symbol of Mary elevated position and glorified status. The apparition happened before Mary's Assumption (body & soul).
So let's go back to the main question, is the encounter of St. James the Greater an apparition or bilocation?
My confident answer is, by virtue of the image and symbols of Our Lady standing atop of a six foot jasper Pillar carried by the angels means a "glorified status". Seven glorious years of receiving the Holy Eucharist and receiving the Fullness of the Sevenfold Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary standing above the heights of men and the angels now are Her servants. Glorified above men and angels while on earth. The Our Lady of the Pillar is called "Pre-Assumption Apparition". In Heaven a crown of twelve stars is waiting her glorification (Revelation 12:1)
Mary the Mother of the Church appeared to St. James the Greater in a "glorified body" a "ghostlike" like the "resurrected body" of Jesus it transcends the space and time.