The vastness of the Sanctuary does not lie so much in its architecture as in understanding religious, cultural, social, historical and ecological values that symbolise the experience of a nation.


Our Lady

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 Ptron 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 ahnd, the Child gives a blessing, whilst His left hand holds a pinecone, symbol of fertility and everlasting life.

The Legend

The first text which makes reference to the legend dates from 1239, a fact which demostrates 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 taht in the year 880, on a Saturday nigth 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 folllowing 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 Feast

The feast of the Virgin of Montserrat, Patron Saint of Catalonia, is celebrated on the 27th of April. The Vigil of the feast is also celebrated the previous day.
Since the Enthronement Feasts (1947), the Vigil has been as solemn and as devoutly followed as the Feast Day itself, especially by young people. On the evening of the 26th of April, year, the Sanctuary fills with young people who congregate in order to share a frienly, brotherly atmosphere. The day is filled with music, special readings and the singing of Psalms. The dau culminates of the Vigil Eucharist.
The Feast of the Virgin of Montserrat is celebrated with numerous traditional activities, including "castellers" (human towers), bands, sardanas (the traditional Catalan Dance)... The liturgical ceremonies are specially involving.


Figure detail

Figure detail


  • Prehistòria

    'The most important prehistoric vestiges in Montserrat have been found in the "Cova Gran" and the "Cova Freda". Pttery dating back to Early Neolitic times was found for the first time in Catalonia in these caves. This pottery was often decorated with '

  • 880

    'The image of the Mother of God is found, accoding 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 '

  • 1221

    'Songs of Alfonso X, "The Wise"; the popularisation of the miracles of the Virgin; numerous pilgrims begin to arrive . '

  • 1223

    'First accounts of the presence of a Boy's choir, the first in Europe. '

  • 1223

    'Institution of the brotherhood of the Mother of God of Montserrat. '

  • 14Th century

    'Montserrat starts to spread throughout Europe. '

  • 1409

    'The monastery becomes an independent abbey. '

  • 1476

    'The Gothic cloister is built. '

  • 1490

    'A printing press is installed at Montserrat. '

  • 1493

    'Bernat Boïl, a hermit from Montserrat, goes with Cristopher Columbus on voyage to America. One of the islands in the Antilles is named Montserrat. Initiation of spread of wordship of the Mother of God of Montserrat in the Americas. '

  • 1522

    'Ignatius of Loyola makes a pilgrimage to Montserrat '

  • 1592

    'The present-day church is consecrated. '

  • 16th-18th centuries

    'Many cultural activities are started al the monastery '

  • 17th-18th. Centuries

    'Importance of the music school al Montserrat. '

  • 17th-18th. Centuries

    'Important foundings of dependencies in Bohemia and Austria. '

  • 1811 - 1812

    'Montserrat is destroyed by Napoleon's army. '

  • 1835

    'Land acts, due to which the monastery lose all of its property and only one monk remains. '

  • 1844

    'Monks return to Montserrat. '

  • 1858

    'Under the leadership of Abbot Muntades, the definitive reconstruction of Montserrat is undertaken. '

  • 1880

    'Millenary celebrations at Montserrat '

  • 1881

    'Celebration of the Coronation of the Image and Proclamation of the Virgin of Montserrat as Patron Saint of Catalonian. '

  • 1901

    'Inauguration of the new façade of the basilica. '

  • 1915

    'I liturgical Congress at Montserrat. '

  • 1931

    'Celebration of the 11th Centenary of the founding of the monastery. '

  • 1936-1939

    'Spanish Civil War. The monks have to leave the monastery; during the war 23 monks are killed. The autonomous government of Catalonia saves Montserrat, and frees it from looting and destruction. '

  • 1939

    'Once the war is over, the monks return. '

  • 1942

    'The first stone of the new façade of monastery is placed. '

  • 1947

    'Celebration of the Enthronement of the image of the mother of God, marking the first movement of civic reconciliation in the country after the Civil war. '

  • 1950

    'creation of the patronage of the mountain of Montserrat '

  • 1959

    'The main altar of the basilica, facing the liturgical assembly, is consecrated and the rectory and the monks' choir are remodeled. '

  • 1965

    'II Liturgical Congress at Montserrat. '

  • 1968

    'The new façade is completed. '

  • 1970

    'The monastery, with 300 intellectuals locked inside calling for respect for humans rights by Franco dictatoship, is put under siege by the police for 2 days. '

  • 1976

    'The new complex, with restaurants for the large number of pilgrims at the entrance to the shrine, is inaugurated. '

  • 1980-1981

    'Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the coronation of the Image and of the Proclamation of Montserrat as the Patron Saint of Catalonian. '

  • 1982

    'The new museum of modern Catalan painting is inaugurated. '

  • 1982

    'Pope John Paul II, with the Church of Catalonian, visitis Montserrat. '

  • 1986

    'On August 18 a major forest fire devastates a large part of the mountain. '

  • 1987

    'The Generalitat de Catalunya makes the mountain a natural Park. '

  • 1988

    'The project to restore the basilica is undertaken. '

  • 1990

    'III Liturgical Congress at Montserrat. '

  • 1991

    'Restoration of the basilica is begun on setember 16. '

  • 1992

    'Celebration of the IV Centenary of the consecration of the basilica. '

  • 1995-1996

    'Inauguration of the exterior and interior restoration projects for the basilica. '

  • 1997

    'Inauguration of the restoration of the Holy Grotto on March 19, '

  • 1997-1998

    'Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Enthronement of the Image of the Mother of God of Montserrat. '

  • 2000

    'Flooding, severe damage to campus buildings . '