Montserrat Monastery and the Mountain with Our Lady of Montserrat Spain, also known as La Moreneta

Santuario de Montserrate, Fórnoles, Španija

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+34 93 877 77 01

Every day: 7.30 am to 8.00 pm

The Montserrat Monastery

The Montserrat Monastery Spain hides nested in the heart of the most emblematic mountain of Catalonia, in the middle of a unique and spectacular landscape and just 60 kilometers (32 miles) from Barcelona.

The existing devotion for Virgin of Montserrat, together with the singularity of the surrounding area and the cultural importance of the monastery make Montserrat a different place. A characteristic that makes this Marian destination different is the fact that Montserrat is not only a sanctuary, but a monastery and a mountain.  See more Catholic shrines and Basilicas in Spain.

Sanctuary of Montserrat Spain

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The Sanctuary of Montserrat is the main sacred destination in Catalonia. It has always been a well recognized and appreciated place due to many and various reasons. Not in vane, it receives more than two million visitors each year.

Daily, pilgrims and faithful from everywhere arrive to worship Our Lady, popularly known as “La Morerenta” (The little dark-skinned one).

An important contribution to this recognition must be given to the Benedictine monks living in the monastery. They are the ones taking care of the image of the Virgin, providing assistance to the pilgrims, besides keeping and preserving the Catalonian art and culture.

This popularity and diversity that Sanctuary of Montserrat projects to the outside make people come due to various reasons and motivations: venerate the image of the Virgin, enjoy nature and the landscape, admire the artistic patrimony or just as a simple tourist visit.

This is why Sanctuary of Montserrat is not only a place conceived for and to pilgrims. On the contrary, it was conceived for everyone wanting to visit it.

The site is a true wonder: a big room where the visitor can enjoy the basilica, the place where the Holly Image is kept, a natural park, a monastery, the kids choir and the museum.

The Image of Our Lady of Montserrat Spain – La Moreneta

The image of Our Lady of Montserrat Spain, also known as “La Moreneta” (The little dark-skinned one) due to the dark color of her face and hands, is a 12th century Romanesque carving of great beauty and expressiveness.

It represents Saint Mary as “God´s Mother” or “Knowledge Throne”. The color does not come from the wood (it is not dark) or the paint. There are historical testimonies that indicate that the figure has been slowly darkening with the past of time.

The image follows the “Virgin on its Majesty” standards, showing Virgin Mary in a frontal position with Jesus sitting on her lap. The image was crowned patron saint of Catalonia on 1881 by Pope León XIII.

The image is placed in a silver altar piece (paid by the donations of the people) and it is in this place where she receives the daily visit of thousands of pilgrims and faithful.

The Feast

The feast of the Virgin of Montserrat, Patron Saint of Catalonia, is celebrated on the 27th of April. The Vigil of the feast is also celebrated the previous day. Since the Enthronement Feasts (1947), the Vigil has been as solemn and as devoutly followed as the Feast Day itself, especially by young people.

On the evening of the 26th of April, year, the Sanctuary fills with young people who congregate in order to share a friendly, brotherly atmosphere. The day is filled with music, special readings and the singing of Psalms. The day culminates of the Vigil Eucharist.

The Feast of the Virgin of Montserrat is celebrated with numerous traditional activities, including “castellers” (human towers), bands, sardanas (the traditional Catalan Dance) The liturgical ceremonies are specially involving.

The Legend

The first text which makes reference to the legend dates from 1239, a fact which demostrates that Montserrat has been a holy place for many many years, due to both the presence of the Image of the Holy Mother of God and the pilgrims coming to worship it.

According to legend, on a Saturday of year 880, some young shepherds saw a big light coming down from the sky. It came accompanied by a beautiful melody.

This scene repeated itself in several occasions. Finally, the bishop wanted to see it with his own eyes. He went there and saw the same scene and when they tried to move the image of Virgin Mary, it become impossible. They understood the divine will: that image had to be venerated on the Montserrat Mountain.

The first document that mentions something, therefore, the historic origin of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat is from year 888. Count Velloso donated the hermitage of Saint Maria to the Ripoll Monastery.

The Image of Our Lady of Montserrat

The image of Our Lady of Montserrat, also known as “La Moreneta” (The little dark-skinned one) due to the dark color of her face and hands, is a 12th century Romanesque carving of great beauty and expressiveness. It represents Saint Mary as “God´s Mother” or “Knowledge Throne”. The color does not come from the wood (it is not dark) or the paint. There are historical testimonies that indicate that the figure has been slowly darkening with the past of time.
The image follows the “Virgin on its Majesty” standards, showing Virgin Mary in a frontal position with Jesus sitting on her lap. The image was crowned patron saint of Catalonia on 1881 by Pope León XIII. The image is placed in a silver altar piece (paid by the donations of the people) and it is in this place where she receives the daily visit of thousands of pilgrims and faithful.

The Legend
The first text which makes reference to the legend dates from 1239, a fact which demostrates that Montserrat has been a holy place for many many years, due to both the presence of the Image of the Holy Mother of God and the pilgrims coming to worship it.
The legend tells taht in the year 880, on a Saturday nigth when the sun was going down over Montserrat, some boy shepherds saw a bright light coming down from the sky, accompanied by beautiful music. The folllowing Saturday they returned with their parents. And the vision came to them again. On the following four Saturdays the Rector of Olesa went with them. And everyone saw the vision.

The Via crucis and the Holy Cave

The Way of the Cross is an act of devotion consisting of following, praying and mediating at 14 crosses or stations on what Jesus did carrying the cross from the house of Pilate to Calvary, concluding with the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus. For Catholics, following the Stations of the Cross is a manifestation of their will to identify themselves with him for the resurrection promised by God the Father for all those who believe in his Son.

The Via Crucis

The Way of the Cross begins a little beyond the Plaça Abat Oliba behind the Font del Portal (The Fountain of the Portal) and continues on to the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, close to the Sant Miquel path. The route is gentle and beautifully shaded and is one of the prettiest places in the area, offering a pleasant panorama of the Shrine.

Fourteen monuments corresponding to the Stations of the Cross were erected between 1904 and 1919 but were completely destroyed in the 1936 war. Some new Stations have been set up using sculptures by Margarida Sans Jordi and Francesc Juventeny; the remaining Stations will be by Domènec Fita using a particulary stylised design.

The Holy Cave

The path which leads to the Santa Cova (Holy Cave) starts near the cable car and continues for about one and a half kilometres along a route established in the seventeenth century. Financial support from the faithful contributed to the fifteen sculptural groups corresponding to the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary set up along the route. Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch, Josep LLimona, the Vallmitjana brothers and others all worked on these pieces of sculpture.

Almost hanging from the rock at the end of the route is the Chapel where legend has it that the Image of Our Lady of Montserrat was found. The current building is by and large the same as the seventeenth century building which was rebuilt twice, firstly because of the damage suffered in the Napoleonic Wars in 1811 and later after damage caused by the fire in 1994 and the collapse of the dome in September 1995. There are some outbuildings used as a dwelling by the monk who welcomes pilgrims there and a charming small cloister. The simple small chapel, built to the design of a Greek cross and dome, backs onto a grotto in the mountain, where there is a stylised reproduction of the authentic Image in the Basilica.  The entire place is peaceful and solitary.

The Montserrat Museum

The Montserrat Museum is one of the most important ones in Catalonia, due to the variety and relevant pieces in exhibition. The museum exhibits more than 1300 pieces from a wide chronologic period. In addition to the large archeological collections (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine) and the paintings dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat, there is a great painting collection with pieces of:
13th to 18th centuries: Luca Giordano, A. Vaccaro, Tiepolo, Berruguete, Caravaggio, El Greco, Morales…
19th to 20th century: Picasso, Dalí, Rusiñol, Nonell, Mir or Casas among others.
Opening hours:
Monday through Friday 10.00am to 5.45pm
Weekends and holidays 10.00am to 5.45pm.
Price:
Adults 6.50 €
Students, retired people and groups (20 +people): 5.50 €
More information:
[email protected]
Ph: 93 877 77 77

The Basilica

The Basilica Architecturally speaking, the Basilica falls between the Gothic and Renaissance traditions, the latter of which began to spread through Catalonia in the 16th century. The Basilica was greatly damaged during the War with the Frech (1808-1814), and could not be reconstructed until the end of the 19th century.

The Atrium
The atrium that provides access to the church is from the eighteenth century, although it did undergo some alterations in the middle of the twentieth century. Of particular note are the series of scratch-work and sculptures of saints or kings connected with Montserrat in its combined role of Benedictine Monastery and Marian Shrine. Images which stand out are those of St. John the Baptist and Saint Joseph sculpted by Josep Clarà. In this atrium is the baptistry with its door which has a representation of the cycle of Church sacraments according to the catechism beginning with baptism.

The Church
The central aisle is 68.32 metres long, 21.5 wide and 33.33 high. In spite of the period when it was built, it is covered with very rounded Gothic arches which are firmly supported by the walls which separate the six side chapels. Together, they constitute an unusual building amongst the monuments of Catalonia and mark the transition from the Gothic to Renaissance.

The interior of the church was restored with somewhat eclectic decoration following the destruction by Napoleon’s armies. A programme of works was carried out between 1992 and 1996 to return the exterior to its original Renaissance design, which was lost due to various additions. The interior also underwent some restoration so that more light could enter through the reopening of the side windows and the octagonal dome to offset the shady colour the building had acquired over the course of time. All of this work was overseen by the architect Arcadi Pla.

The Niche
The wide marble staircase which leads to the Niche, located at the back of the church, opens out into a carved alabaster doorway by Enric Monjo with Marian stories and flanked by two candelabra that are also made of alabaster by Rafael Solanich. The interior of the stairway is decorated with beautifully-made mosaics designed by Fr. Benet Martínez, one of the monks of Montserrat. The two antechambers to the throne of the Holy Image contain paintings by Josep Obiols.

Two pairs of beaten silver doors lead to the small throne room, visible from the central aisle. The dome and walls of the throne room are decorated with folden mosaics designed by Obiols, which show Our Lady of Montserrat being proclaimed patron saint of Catalonia and other Marian scenes. There are nine worked silver lamps, representing the eight Catalan dioceses and the Community of Montserrat, around the room. Reliefs by Joaquim Ros representing the Nativity and the Visitations of Mary flank the throne. Above the Image there are reproductions of the crown, sceptre and lily offered by the people of Catalonia to Our Lady (the originals are kept in the museum).

Teh back part of this room leads to the circular niche built between 1876 and 1884 by Villar i Carmona in a pre-Modernista style with Gothic and Romanesque features. The famous architect Gaudí played an important role in the direction of this work. The vault is decorated with frescos by Joan Llimona, which show the pilgrims of Montserrat being received by Saint Mary.
The exit from the niche is via the Path of the Ave Maria, where pilgrims leave the candles they offer to Oru Lady as an act of thanks or in remembrance of the prayer they have said at the Shrine.

The New Sacristy
The new Sacristy was built by the architect Francesc Folguera and consists of a vestibule, a spacious room with cupboards and a small apse. In the vestibule there is the tomb and statue in bronze by Joaquim Ros of the Venerable Fr. Josep de Sant Benet, a monk who died in 1723 and who is remembered for his holiness. The entire vault is decorated in a distinctly idealistic style with biblical stories of the Eucharist and scenes of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost by Josep Obiols. The mahogany cupboards along the side walls have marquetry panels which show saints and others figures linked to Montserrat. The ensemble is extremely beautiful and has especially well-balanced lines.

The Crypt
A small located in the right-hand side of the Presbytery, at the side of the niche chamber itself, leads down to the Crypt. This sober harmonious barrel-vaulted room was opened in 1951 and designed as the burial place for Aboot Antoni M. Marcet and the monks who gave their lives to Christ in the civil war of 1936-39.
The tombs are placed in two vaults opened in the wall; each has a Carrara marble gravestone engraved with details of the remains contained in the vault. At the back of the room there is a memorial stone to those monks whose remains could not be found.

The body of Abbot Marcet lies in a sarcophagus designed by Joan Rebull in the centre of the room behind the altar.
In the sides walls are also to be found the tombs and gravestones of Cardinal Anselm M. Albareda, the Abbots Gregori Sunyol, Aureli M. Escarré, Gabriel M. Brasó and Pere Celestí Gusí, all the monks of Montserrat, of Fr. Bernardo López, who was abbot at the Monastery of Our Lady of Montserrat in Manila, and of Bishop Antonio Urbss of Latvia together with his secretary, both of whom died in exile at the Monastery.

The Upper Choir
The Upper Choir, which until 1934 was the only one in the Basilica, is supported by Gothic arches above the chancel of the Church. The most notable feature is the group of neoclassical walnut choir-stalls which replaced the Renaissance choir-stalls carved by Cristóbal de Salamanca in the sixteenth century and burnt during the Napoleonic Wars (apart from a few panels and columns which still remain). The current choir-stalls were designed in 1824 by Antoni Cellés, who was the first director of the architecture class at the School of the Noble Arts of the Llotha in Barcelona.

The large nineteenth century polychromatic rose representing the coronation and glorification of Mary is also worthy of note.

Square of the Cross
This square owes its name to the cross that can be found to the left of the square. This is a work of art by Josep M. Subirach (1927) and is dedicated to San Miguel, the Patron Saint of Montserrat. The menaing of the name of the Archangel Michael (San Miguel) is engraved on the cross in various languages; it means “Who is as God ?”.

Abbot Oliba Square
A bronze statute by Manuel Cusachs (1933), dedicated to the Abbot Oliba, founder of the Monastery, dominates the square.The Abbot, Bishop of Vic, is seating on a chair on the back of which the bell towers of the monasteries of Ripoll (Ripollés) and of Sant Miquel de Cuixà (Conflent) can be seen. abbot Oliba is holding some plans showing the early church at Montserrat in his left hand, and with his rigth hand, he welcomes everyone who comes to Montserrat.

The square is surrounded by three large buildings, which are used to provide accommodation for the pilgrims. In the central part, we can see hundred years old cedars, brought from the mountains of Lebanon by Father Bonaventura Ubach

St. Mary’s Square
St. Mary’s square is a long esplanade ending at the mountain, and is made up by three graded squares. It is the work of the architec J. Puig I Cadafalch (1867-1956).

The new facade of the Monastery, built in polished mountain stone by Francesc Folguera (1891-1966), rises up over the suqre. The facade’s three upper arcades are decorated with reliefs by J.Rebull (1899-1981). The one on the leftevokes the figure of San Benedict. The one in the centre represents the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption of the holy Mary by Pope Pius XII. And the relief on the right shows Saint George, whit the monks who died during the civil war.

The ruins of the Gothiic cloisters (1476), contructed by the commendatory Abbot, Giuliano della Rovere, who later Pope under the name of Julius II, can be found to the left of the facade. The series of sculptures that stand on the right-hand edge of the square are dedicated to the founding saints of the religious institutions that are related to Montserrat.

Hourly trains from Barcelona and Manresa link up with the rack railway , and the cable car. Sanctuary of Montserratis also well communicated with the main road network.

Also the tradition of reaching Montserrat on foot goes back to the Middle Ages, when there was no other way of coming to worship the Holy Image. Nowadays, many groups of pilgrims continue to walk up to Montserrat once a year.

Located in the centre of Catalonia and well communicated by the main road network, Montserrat is just a short journey from any part of the country. Visitors can also make their way to Monistrol de Montserrat and take either the rack railway or the cable car up to the sanctuary.

From Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona and Lleida: see How to get to Montserrat by road (PDF).

If you come to the sanctuary by car, the Montserrat Mountain Trust provides attended car parking at rates laid down annually by the Catalan Parliament.
This fee pays for the car park attendant service and also serves to fund other services: lighting, cleaning, gardening work and maintenance of the natural park.
Car park capacity is limited.

Montserrat’s Cremallera is a public transport service giving visitors magnificent views as it ascends more than 600 metres up the mountain. The journey from the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat railway station in Monistrol de Montserrat to the monastery covers 5 kilometres.  The journey takes 15 minutes, with departures from Monistrol Vila every 20 minutes. There is a free car park with 900 spaces for cars and coaches at the station.

Links with FGC trains

FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat) trains to Montserrat depart from Barcelona-Plaça Espanya Station leave every hour from 08.36 am. The R5 (Barcelona – Manresa) line also links up with the Montserrat cable car and rack railway stations.

Montserrat’s cable car (Aeri), which entered into service in 1930, is the quickest way to reach the sanctuary.  At an average speed of 5 metres per second, the cable car covers the 1,350-metre journey comfortably, scaling gradients of up to 45%, in just 5 minutes. During the journey, passengers can have splendid views of the beautiful scenery, and glimpse part of the magnificent Monumental Rosary.
Cable cars depart every 15 minutes. Free parking is available for those reaching the cable car station by car.

Working days (Monday – Saturday)

  • 07.30 h Lauds
  • 11.00 h Conventual Mass at the Basilica
  • 12.00 h Mass at the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament
  • 13.00 h Monday – Friday: Salve Regina and Vilorai by the boy’s Choir
  • Saturday: Salve Regina and Virolai by faithful and pilgrims
  • 18.45 h Vespers
  • 19.30 h Early Festive Mass (only on saturdays)

Sundays and holydays

  • 07.30 h Lauds
  • 09.30 h Mass
  • 11.00 h Conventual Mass
  • 12.00 h Salve Regina and Virolai by the boy’s Choir
  • 13.00 h Mass
  • 18.15 h Rosary
  • 18.45 h Vespers, Salve Regina and Motet by the boy’s Choir
  • 19.30 h Mass

Confessions

  • Monday – Friday: from 10.45 to 13.00 h
  • Saturday: from 10.00 to 13.00 h and from 19.30 to 20.00 h
  • Sunday:
    • From 08.15 to 13.00 h
    • From 17.00 to 18.00 h
    • From 19.30 to 20.00 h

The Feast
The feast of the Virgin of Montserrat, Patron Saint of Catalonia, is celebrated on the 27th of April. The Vigil of the feast is also celebrated the previous day. Since the Enthronement Feasts (1947), the Vigil has been as solemn and as devoutly followed as the Feast Day itself, especially by young people. On the evening of the 26th of April, year, the Sanctuary fills with young people who congregate in order to share a frienly, brotherly atmosphere. The day is filled with music, special readings and the singing of Psalms. The dau culminates of the Vigil Eucharist.
The Feast of the Virgin of Montserrat is celebrated with numerous traditional activities, including “castellers” (human towers), bands, sardanas (the traditional Catalan Dance)… The liturgical ceremonies are specially involving.

Ori­gins of the Sanctuary of Montserrat

According to legend, on a Saturday of year 880, some young shepherds saw a big light coming down from the sky. It came accompanied by a beautiful melody. This scene repeated itself in several occasions. Finally, the bishop wanted to see it with his own eyes. He went there and saw the same scene and when they tried to move the image of Virgin Mary, it become impossible. They understood the divine will: that image had to be venerated on the Montserrat Mountain.
The first document that mentions something, therefore, the historic origin of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat is from year 888. Count Velloso donated the hermitage of Saint Maria to the Ripoll Monastery.

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