Montserrat, Spain: Shrine of the Black Madonna
In Catalonia, Spain, not far from Barcelona, you will find this historic monastery perched on a cliff. The location itself could be a destination in itself: tucked behind a huge rock and almost inaccessable in the past, it also offers views of the countryside and the Mediterranean off in the distance.
But the main focus for us is the famous statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, known as the Black Madonna, or moreneta in Catalan. Its’ color is the result of the coloring of the varnish on the face and hands due to the passage of time.
The origin of the image is unknown. Some claim that it was carved in the Holy Land in the early Centuries of the church while others put the date around the 13th Century.
The Holy Image portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary as a queen, with the infant Jesus sitting on her lap. She holds a spherical orb in her right hand, which symbolizes the cosmos, creation, the perfect volume.
With her left hand, Mary gestures to place her on the Infant’s shoulder, indicating that that omnipotent king is her son. The Infant blesses with the right hand, and with the left holds a pineapple, a sign of fertility and perennial life.
Nowadays it is behind a protective sheet of glass, with the exception of one of her hands. It is tradition for you to kiss or touch the Virgin’s hand whilst opening out your other hand to Jesus.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola visited here after he recovered from his illness and laid down his military equipment in front of the statue. He went on to a period of asceticism before…..and eventually founding…….the order that became known as the Jesuits. You can visit the cave where he lived right near Montserrat.
Traveling to Montserrat:
Montserrat is about 30 miles from Barcelona. The easiest way to get to Montserrat is to catch a train from the rail station at Plaça Espanya in Barcelona—you will want line R-5. The train will take you to the base of the mountain. To reach the Monastery you can then take the cable car from the base of the mountain. There is an admission fee, which helps to support the efforts to restore the monastery.
Address: 08199 Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain
GPS coordinates: 41° 35′ 35.9736” N, 1° 50′ 15.6336” E
Tel: +34 938 77 7777
Click here for the official website of the Monastery at Montserrat.
2. Abbey of Montserrat