• Day842

    Montserrat - monastery and mountain

    September 25, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    50km northwest of Barcelona, legend has it that Montserrat mountain was "sawn by angels to make a throne for the Virgin Mary" and once you actually see the mountain, you know that the description fits perfectly.

    The limestone turrets of rock extend from its 1236m-high bulk where halfway up lies the Benedictine Monestir de Montserrat, home to the Black Madonna, one of Spain's most revered icons. The monastery was founded in 1025 to commemorate visions of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by celestial light and a chorus of holy music, experienced by shepherds and is Spain's second most important pilgrimage sight after Santiago di Compostela.

    The Black Madonna is a Romanesque dark wooden figure holding the infant in her lap, that takes pride of place high above the main altar. Traditionalists believe it was carved by St. Luke and hidden by St. Peter in the mountains. From the long, snaking queue of people who were lining up to touch the icon, it seems that version is very popular still.

    Together with our Dutch friends, Hans and Mireille, we timed our visit to coincide with a short performance by the boys choir and we were not alone! The Basilica, adjacent to the monastery, was absolutely packed with tourists from all over the world who spoilt the atmosphere a little by holding up cameras and tablets while the service was taking place.

    Once outside again, we wandered around and took in the superb views high above the surrounding plains where mountain hiking and trails dispersed some of the crowds.
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