Montserrat – A Great Day Trip from Barcelona

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This building is almost 4,000 feet high (1200 meters)

High in the Montserrat Mountains, of the Catalonia region in Spain, is the the Montserrat Monastery for Benedictine monks.  It has a remarkable history dating back to 880 when a group of shepherd children saw a brilliant light descending from the heavens along with beautiful singing. They thought it was the voices of angels.  The children were overwhelmed and ran to tell their parents.  Although the parents were not convinced, they went to the area where the children claimed they had their vision.  The parents experienced the same miracle and brought the local vicar to the area where he, too, shared an experience as the parents and children.

Each experience was at a cave on the mountain side and when it was explored by the religious elders, they found an icon of the Virgin Mary.  It is believed that the statue was carved in 50 AD by St Luke and brought to Spain.  In order to protect the statue from the Moors who invaded Spain, the statue was hidden in the cave.  After the discovery of the icon in 880 AD, the elders tried to carry it down the mountain.  Legend says it became too heavy to carry and the people took it as a sign that the Virgin Mary should be worshipped on the mountain.  The Santa Cova de Montserat or the Holy Cave became a religious destination for pilgrims.  IMG_2974

Today, a chapel is built around the grotto.  It is about a mile walk from the monastery along the Camí de la Santa Cova (the Path of the Holy Cave).  Along the path, are statues dedicated to the rosary and the 15 mysteries of the Virgin.

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Some of the sculptures were created by the modernist architects Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

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Inside the chapel where the icon of the Virgin was found.  Today, the original is on display at the monastery and a replica is kept in the cave.

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The Virgin of Montserrat or Our Lady of Montserrat is the patron saint of Catalonia.  She shares this honor with Saint George.  This statue is lovingly referred to as La Moreneta or “the little dark one.”

To get to this spiritual place, it takes about an hour by train from Barcelona to arrive at the base of the mountains.  Once at the base of the mountains, you can take a cable car……..IMG_2906

or……a funicularIMG_2965

I took the cable car up and the funicular down.   If you are driving, you can drive a car to the monastery.

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I actually visited the monastery on my first visit to Barcelona in November 2012.  David and I didn’t make it this trip but I really wanted to share this special place with my readers.

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This is inside the basilica, where the original statue is. I took this, looking down, from the alter.

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The alter and above, you can see the back of the original statue of the Virgin of Montserrat.

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People come from around the world to pay respects to the statue.  If I remember correctly, I waited 2 hours in line but on busier days, the wait is much longer.

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The statue is surrounded by a protective glass in a room of silver and gold.

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Besides seeing the famous statue and basilica, there is a lovely art museum on the premises.  There are miles of hiking trails that are decorated with a variety of statues.  It is easy to spend a full day exploring.  I wish I had had more time.

If you travel to Barcelona and want a day escape from the city, I hope you consider the Montserrat Monastery.

Until next time, I wish you blessings…….

 

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