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Published: March 17th 2021
15th March - Montserrat
In 1025, Oliba, Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, founded a new monastery at the hermitage of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The little monastery soon began to receive pilgrims and visitors who contributed to the spread of stories of miracles and wonders performed by the Virgin.
In 1409 the monastery of Montserrat became an independent abbey. From 1493 to 1835, a period in which the monastery underwent great reforms, growing and increasing in splendour, Montserrat was part of the Valladolid Congregation.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Monastery of Montserrat became a cultural centre of the first order. The Montserrat Music School produced important composers.
The French War (1808-1811) and disentailment in 1835 brought destruction and abandonment, but in 1844 began the restoration of monastic life and in 1881 there were the Festivities for the Coronation of the Image of Our Lady, at which She was proclaimed Patron Saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII.
The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) led once again to the abandonment of the monastery. However, the Government of Catalonia managed to save Montserrat from being destroyed.
Today, Montserrat has been modernised to continue attending to the needs to pilgrims one thousand years after it was originally founded.
The Tren de Montserrat, as the rack railway between Monistrol and Montserrat was known, has been in existence since the 19th century. It was originally built to meet the need for improved access for worshippers and pilgrims to the Montserrat sanctuary.
The traditional way up Montserrat mountain had been on foot or horseback. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that an alternative and much quicker access way was inaugurated. This was the wide gauge line operated by Ferrocarrils del Nord to Monistrol-Montserrat station. This made it possible for a stagecoach service to do the journey in three and a half hours.
The lack of a permanent means of transport and an increase in the number of visitors led Joaquim Carrera, engineer and admirer of both Montserrat and Swiss mountain trains, to persuade local businessman Josep M. González to build a rack railway that would link Monistrol station with the monastery. In 1881 the company Ferrocarriles de Montaña a Grandes Pendientes was constituted for the
purpose. The rack railway was inaugurated on 6 October 1892, and it soon became the most popular railway in Catalonia. It cut the journey time between Monistrol station and the monastery to one hour ‑and five minutes.
The Black Madonna was believed to have been carved in Jerusalem at the beginning of the religion. It is a wooden sculpture. It is one of the most famous Black Madonna statues in the world, and in 1844 Pope Leo XIII declared the Virgin of Montserrat the patroness of Catalonia. Black Madonnas can be found all over the world.
The boy's choir at Montserrat are called L'Escolania. They are renowned around the world for the high standard of music that they produce. The first account of there being a Boy's Choir at Montserrat dates right back to 1223. Around the seventeenth and eighteenth century the music school at Montserrat really began to gain in importance and recognition.
Today there are about 50 boys in the Boy's Choir at Montserrat.
We have visited Montserrat but today on the virtual tour it was nice to walk with Pepus our virtual guide without hoards of tourists.
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