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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: 41.3879, 2.16992
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Today we were scheduled for a five-hour tour to Monserrat, a multi-peaked mountain not far from Barcelona. It is home to one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Spain: the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat. Since the 12th century, pilgrims have been drawn to the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna (La Moreneta).
According to Catholic tradition, the statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat was carved by St. Luke around 50 AD and brought to Spain. It was later hidden from the Moors in a cave, where it was rediscovered in 880 AD. According to the legend of the discovery, the statue was discovered by shepherds. They saw a bright light and heard heavenly music that eventually led them to the grotto and the statue.
In the 11th century, the abbot-bishop Oliba founded a monastery on the mountain of Montserrat. According to historians, it was then, in the 12th century, that the statue of the Madonna and Child was made. The Madonna statue soon earned widespread fame as numerous miracles were associated with her intercession. In 1881, Montserrat's Black Madonna was crowned in accordance with Canon Law and proclaimed patron
saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII.
The Monastery of Montserrat, located near the top of the 4,000-foot mountain, is home to about 80 monks. The monks welcome visitors and invite them to participate in their celebrations of Mass (10:30-12 daily). The Basilica next door is home to the Black Madonna.
The basilica is also home to one of the monastery's most noted attractions, the 50-member Escolanía, one of the oldest and most renowned boys' choirs in Europe, dating from the 13th century. At 1pm daily you can hear them singing "Salve Regina" and the "Virolai" (hymn of Montserrat) in the basilica. We stayed for this and it was magnificent.
When we arrived on top, the Mass was just beginning so we couldn't visit the Basilica or the Black Madonna. We opted for the movie and museum tour to fill the time. There is a $4/person charge (senior rate) to see the movie about Montserrat, another video on the lives of the monks at the monastery, information about the mountain range and a piece on the boys who sing in the choir. The very last part of the movie/museum tour was an absolutely magnificent video of one of their songs. The sound system
envelopes you as you watch three screens of the boys singing, with adult tenors accompanying them. It was a WOW moment. We knew then we had to hear them in person, even though we would be late for our van. I texted our driver and he got approval for a late return to Barcelona.
Another option to visit Monserrat is via the Catalán railway from Barcelona.
We loved our trip to Monserrat. Great recommendation from our travel supplier. However we were somewhat unprepared. We had been told our driver would give us information; he did not. We could/should have done research on the internet to know what to expect.
Although I actually took a video of the performance, you will enjoy the boys and their performance more with this YouTube video of the song "You raise me up." The Sounds is Oh! So much better than my iPhone sound.
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When we returned, we spent 15 minutes on the internet, checking about car service for tomorrow, checking in for our flights. We ate lunch at El Café d'En Victor, a nice spot across the plaza from our hotel, and next door to the Barcelona Cathedral, all inside the old Roman
Walls of the city.
Anne and I hit the Starbucks and our timing was awful. It had been drizzling but now there was a massive downpour. Our shoes and coats still weren't dry from yesterday and now we had another set of close to pack in a plastic bag.
We had a dinner reservation nearby at 8 pm but by then it was pouring again. We decided against the walk and at bar food in the lobby. I have to admit, we didn't give Barcelona a chance to prove to use they have good food. We ate cheaply; and nothing was worth writing home about.
Our driver comes at 5 am tomorrow for our 7:15 flight. Our alarms are set for 4 am, so we big Anne and Barcy farewell this evening as their flights are much later. It was a grand trip, but we are all ready to be home in our own houses, with our pets, and me, with a Tab soda. Check out the last photo here to see what's waiting for me!
Thanks for following along! Love, Tommye
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