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Spiritual Montserrat

A trip to Catalonia’s most devout place

A trip to Catalonia’s most devout place

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey enshrines the image of Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia, and is home to the Escolania, one of Europe’s oldest boys’ choirs.

Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia

From their beginnings as a centre of devotion, Montserrat mountain and abbey have been imbued with spirituality. This privileged mountain environment is ideal to rest, find peace and congregate with the Christian community.

The legend, of which there is written testimony from 1239, says that one afternoon in the year 880 some shepherds received a visit from the Virgin Mary in the form of light and music. The vision was repeated several times and it was then when the first image of the Mother of God was found in a cave in the mountain. Even though the mountain had already been home to a number of chapels inhabited by hermits since the 9th century, it was not until 1025 that Abbot Oliba founded Montserrat Abbey and it became a pilgrimage destination.

Now the monastery is inhabited by some eighty Benedictine monks who worship a Black Madonna popularly known as ‘La Moreneta’ (the little dark one), a 12th-century statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia. The Virgin Mary is holding an orb, signifying the cosmos, in her right hand, while her left hand rests on the back of the Infant Jesus to indicate that the omnipotent king is her son. The Christ Child, who is also wearing a crown like the Virgin Mary, has his right hand raised in blessing and is holding a pine cone, a symbol of fertility and perennial life, in his left hand.

The basilica is a very special place for prayer and everyone is invited to participate in the recitals and religious services with the monks. There is also a service especially dedicated to pilgrims and you can attend performances by the Escolania de Montserrat, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious boys’ choirs.

 

Points of interest

  • Escolania de Montserrat performances
  • Visit to ‘La Moreneta’, Our Lady of Montserrat
  • Basílica de Montserrat
  • Audiovisual space