The Chapter House
This sober, beautifully decorated square-shaped room is the meeting place for
the monastic community for important events. The more informal daily meetings
are held elsewhere. The Monastery lives as a family and shares both its
spriritual as well as material goods, in an attempt to live a Christian life to
the full in accordance with the evangelical spirit contained in the Rule of
Saint Benedict and under the guidance of an abbot.
This fraternal communion involves an element of dialogue, of communication, so
that each member of the community is jointly responsible for the running of the
Monastery and helps the abbot in determining the courses of action to be taken.
This room is used for these serious moments of deliberation, judgment and
decision making at a community level and also for the monastic conferences which
the abbot addresses to the comminity from time to time. Near the Chapter House
is the Room of the Sign, watched over by a bronze statue of Saint Benedict by Josep Clarà.
A sepulchral monument to Abbot Oliba by Enric Monjo and a statue of Abbot García
de Cisneros by Francesc Juventeny can be found in this room.
Meals are an important part of fraternal life; the Bible itself emphasises their
spiritual nature and teaches that God is present in the communion amongst those
eating. Monastic rules therefore give an almost liturgical air to meals, which
begin and end in prayer and are conducted in silence. The aim is to feed not
only the body but also the spirit through reading which accompanies the meal.
The consequence is that refectories in monasteries have a special architectural
The refectory at Montserrat is large and very light dates from the seventeenth
century with some alterations made in 1925 by Puig i Cadafalch. On one side it
overlooks the side of the rock itself and on the other, large windows give an
excellent view of the mountain. At the presiding end, there is a side apse
covered in mosaics showing the Christ in Majesty, inspired by wall paintings in
the Pyrenees. At the opposite end, there is a triptych painted in cheerful
colours by Josep Obiols, which shows a scene from the life of Saint Benedict. In
the centre, there is a stone throne for the reader.