The vastness of the Sanctuary does not lie so much in its architecture as in understanding religious,
cultural, social, historical and ecological values that symbolise the experience of a nation.
The image of Our Lady of Montserrat, popularly known as La Moreneta (the Dark One),
due to the dark colour of Her skin, is a truly beautiful 12th-century Romanesque polychrome carving.
Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Our Lady of Montserrat Ptron Saint of Catalonia in 1881. In 1947, the image
was enthroned in a silver altarpiece, paid for by popular subscription and installed in the upper
section of the basilica apse.
Artistically, the image imitates a popular model, that of Our Lady Majesty, with a wholly frontal
attitude and Baby Jesus on Her lap in the centre. Both Mother and Child are wearing crowns.
The figure of Our Lady stretches out Her right hand, which holds the globe, symbolising the cosmos.
Our Lady nearly rests Her left hand on the Child's shoulder, indicating that this omnipotent king is
Her Son. With His right ahnd, the Child gives a blessing, whilst His left hand holds a pinecone,
symbol of fertility and everlasting life.
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 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.
For further information on any of the events which make up the history of Montserrat,
choose a date on the menu below to see the relevant information.
'The most important prehistoric vestiges in Montserrat have been found in the "Cova Gran" and the "Cova Freda". Pttery dating back to Early Neolitic times was found for the first time in Catalonia in these caves. This pottery was often decorated with '
'The image of the Mother of God is found, accoding to legend, in a cave in the mountain. '
'First documented mention of Montserrat '
'The four chapels in existence at the end of the 9th century, St. Mary's, St.Iscle's, St. Peter's and St. Matin's, were probably inhabited by hermits. Today onle one of these, that of St. Iscle, is left, in the monastery's garden. '
'Document testilying the foundation of the monastery of St. Cecilia at Montserrat. '
'Oliba, Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, founded the Montserrat Monastery next to St. Mary's chapel, which was to soon become a Romanic style Sanctuary. '
Late 12th century
'A new image of the Holy Mother of God was sculpted: it is one of the jewels of Catalan Romanic '