The Virgin of Núria
A symbol of fertility
The Virgin worshipped by those hoping to have children
Since the Middle Ages devotees have been worshipping this Romanesque carved wooden statue which presides over the shrine to the Virgin of Núria.
The Virgin of Núria is a Romanesque statue from the 12th century that is venerated at the shrine of Núria. The history of the Virgin, who is the patron saint of the Pyrenees and of the diocese of Urgell, is lost in legend.
It is said that, in the 8th century, Saint Giles, who was living as a hermit, sculpted an image of the Mother of God to whom the shepherds in the area prayed when called by the tolling of a bell. Saint Giles gave them food from a pot, which is why the cross, the bell and the pot are the symbols of Núria.
When Christians started to be persecuted during the Muslim rule of Spain, Saint Giles hid the image in a cave and fled the valley. Centuries later, in 1072, a shepherd called Amadeu erected a small shrine at this same spot and years after that the image was found. According to the legend, the image could not be carried in processions to Queralbs because it wanted to stay in Núria, which is why its worship was established there.
The carved wooden statue, which dates back to the 12th or 13th century, represents Mary as a Virgin in Majesty and Throne of Wisdom. The Mother of God’s hair and ears are uncovered, she is wearing a shepherdess’s cloak and she is holding the Christ Child with both hands. The similarly-attired Infant Jesus is holding a book in his left hand and giving a blessing with his right hand.
Many couples who cannot conceive travel up to Núria because it is said that this Virgin has the gift of fertility. According to the legend, they must follow the symbolic ritual: praying in front of the cross and putting their heads in the pot while ringing the bell. It is said to have worked for many couples!