A trip to find peace
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
Montserrat Abbey is located in a privileged setting, a unique mountain with exuberant nature, which since the discovery of the venerated image has been one of Catalonia’s most popular centres of devotion.
According to the legend, in 880 some shepherds who were walking on the mountain saw a brilliant light accompanied by music. The visions were repeated several times and were interpreted as a visit from the Virgin Mary. It was around this time when an image of the Virgin Mary was found in a cave on the mountain, which is why this location was chosen by Abbot Oliba in 1025 as the site for Montserrat Abbey, which since then has become an essential destination for Christian pilgrims.
A community of monks from the order of Saint Benedict has been established at the monastery since the 11th century. They currently number 80 and worship a 12th-century statue of Our Lady of Montserrat known as ‘La Moreneta’, or little dark one, due to the dark colour of its wood, blackened by candle smoke. The Virgin Mary, who is golden except for her hands and face, 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 crowned, is holding a pine cone, a symbol of fertility and perennial life, in his left hand and his right hand is raised in blessing.
In addition to ‘La Moreneta’ another must-see on Montserrat is a performance by the Escolania de Montserrat, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious boys’ choirs. All visitors are invited to participate in the religious services with the monks and even to stay at the monastery to enjoy its peace and tranquillity.
Points of interest
- Visit to ‘La Moreneta’, Our Lady of Montserrat
- Escolania de Montserrat performances
- The Monastery of Santa Cecília and the art space dedicated to works by Sean Scully
- Montserrat Natural Park