An Excursion to Montserrat

One day, most of us went on an excursion (or a pilgrimage, so to speak) to Montserrat. A brief history might be useful. In 880 AD, the image of the Mother of God was found, according to legend, in a cave in the mountain, and by 888, Montserrat is mentioned in a text. In 1025, an Abbot established a monastery here, and pilgrims started arriving about 1200. The Boy's Choir, the first in Europe, was first mentioned in 1223. In 1490, a printing press was installed. A hermit from Montserrat accompanied Christopher Columbus to the "new world", where an island in the Antilles was named Montserrat. In 1522, Ignatius of Loyola made a pilgrimage here. In 1592, the present-day Church was consecrated. In 1811-12, Napolean's army destroyed Montserrat. The monks returned by 1844, and more than ten years later, the definitive reconstruction of Montserrat was undertaken. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the monks had to leave, after 23 of their number were killed. The autonomous government of Catalonia saved Montserrat from looting and destruction, and the monks returned after the civil war. Since then, the mountain has been named a natural park and many pilgrim or tourist lodgings and restaurants were built.

The main reason many people come to Montserrat is to worship the image of St. Mary in the basilica. The image is a polychromatic wooden carving from the 12th/13th centuries, resting on a polished stone taken from the Mountain, the dark color coming from age, not from paint or the color of the wood. Currently, the community of Benedictine monks numbers around 100, who pray and work for the monastery, teach members of the Boy's Choir, pursue research, run a publishing house, and respond to guests of the monastery.

Although we were looking forward to hearing the Boy's Choir, we learned that they had gone home for vacation. Here are some photos of our trip by tram (above the bus in photo) up the mountain and to Montserrat. The day was well spent, despite the heat.

                      Tefel and Michi went up the funiculer to see where the hermits lived.
We went into the courtyard and then into the basilica, where the monks worship.
We saw people venerating the image of St. Mary (tiny, in window above the altar).