Our Lady of Montserrat or La Moreneta is the Patron Saint of Catalonia:
The Monestir de Montserrat is located in an area of breathtaking natural beauty and there is plenty for visitors to do here. However, the biggest attraction of Montserrat is the statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, the Patron Saint of Catalonia. The Black Madonna is popularly known as La Moreneta (the Dark One) and her presence here makes the Monestir de Montserrat one of the holiest places in Catalonia.
Our Lady of Montserrat
Our Lady of Montserrat was proclaimed as the Patron Saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. In the upper section of the Montserrat Basilica apse, above the altar, is a beautiful 12th-century Romanesque carving which is about a metre in height. She has the child Jesus on her lap and in her outstretched hand is a globe, a symbol of the cosmos. Many pilgrims and devotees come here to venerate La Moreneta and to touch the orb.
The Legend of La Moreneta
Due to the presence of the Black Madonna image, pilgrims have been coming to worship her and Montserrat has been a holy place for centuries.
How La Moreneta came to be in Montserrat may be linked to a local legend which tells of the sighting of a vision by some shepherd boys in the year 880.
On a Saturday evening as the sun was setting over Montserrat, the boys saw a bright light shining down from the sky and it was accompanied by beautiful music. The following Saturday they returned with their parents and the same vision came to them again. On the following four Saturdays the Rector of Olesa went with them and everyone saw the vision.
According to this legend, the statue of the Black Madonna was discovered in a cave where the light shone.
The cave where the shepherd boys are believed to have found the image of Mare de Déu de Montserrat can be visited today by taking the Santa Cova Funicular Railway. The Santa Cova Funicular was built in 1929 to take pilgrims to the cave and pilgrims have been visiting the site since that time.
On the Feast of the Virgin of Montserrat, celebrated on April 27th, the Sanctuary gets lots of visitors, especially the young, who come to share in the activities and atmosphere of the day.
Monestir de Montserrat
Montserrat, Barcelona Province
Map of Montserrat: