THE ABBEY OF OUR LADY OF MONTSERRAT
Dear brethren in Christ, I’m sharing you this vid I took during a recent visit so you can have an idea of how the Basilica of Our Lady of Montserrat looks like. Enjoy and God bless!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei.
The Basilica Architecturally speaking, the Basilica falls between the Gothic and Renaissance traditions, the latter of which began to spread through Catalonia in the 16th century. The Basilica was greatly damaged during the War with the Frech (1808-1814), and could not be reconstructed until the end of the 19th century.
The atrium that provides access to the church is from the eighteenth century, although it did undergo some alterations in the middle of the twentieth century. Of particular note are the series of scratch-work and sculptures of saints or kings connected with Montserrat in its combined role of Benedictine Monastery and Marian Shrine. Images which stand out are those of St. John the Baptist and Saint Joseph sculpted by Josep Clarà. In this atrium is the baptistry with its door which has a representation of the cycle of Church sacraments according to the catechism beginning with baptism.
The central aisle is 68.32 metres long, 21.5 wide and 33.33 high. In spite of the period when it was built, it is covered with very rounded Gothic arches which are firmly supported by the walls which separate the six side chapels. Together, they constitute an unusual building amongst the monuments of Catalonia and mark the transition from the Gothic to Renaissance. The interior of the church was restored with somewhat eclectic decoration following the destruction by Napoleon’s armies. A programme of works was carried out between 1992 and 1996 to return the exterior to its original Renaissance design, which was lost due to various additions. The interior also underwent some restoration so that more light could enter through the reopening of the side windows and the octagonal dome to offset the shady colour the building had acquired over the course of time. All of this work was overseen by the architect Arcadi Pla.
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 Patron 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 hand, 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 demonstrates 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 that in the year 880, on a Saturday night 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 following 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 most important prehistoric vestiges in Montserrat have been found in the “Cova Gran” and the “Cova Freda”. Pttery dating back to Early Neolithic 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, according to legend, in a cave in the mountain. ‘
- 888 ‘First documented mention of Montserrat ‘
- 9th century ‘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.’
- 945 ‘Document testilying the foundation of the monastery of St. Cecilia at Montserrat. ‘
- 1025 ‘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 ‘
AUDIO SOURCE: PERSONAL RECORDING OF “Virolai” sung during the visit by the Basilica choir.
TEXT SOURCE: http://www.abadiamontserrat.cat
PHOTO SOURCES: VIDEOS ARE PERSONAL PROPERTY. OTHER PHOTOS FROM:
De Misburg3014 – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22225943