Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Follow in the direction of the sea which is surrounded by earth. Close to a big city, a legend says that the angels came down from the skies and sawed the rocks to build a throne for the Black Virgin who is found there.

Your image in front of the place where the Black Virgin is found is the seventh test.

This one was the easiest and ironically I was helping in a crossword recently and the clue was regarding Montserrat….. Or was it ironic??? Was it a clue for the quest before I knew the quest existed….. Rahaha!

So close to a big city in Barcelona and the black virgin I knew was here from Tom and I coming here in March 2004, We arrived and asked if they had room to stay for 2 nights in the monastery high up in the mountains we needed to map out the next 5 quests and as luck would have it they had one room left as a big party was arriving the following evening. We had stopped and bought supplies in the store at the foot of the mountain before so we were prepared to camp but very happy to be given a room. Downstairs they have wifi too! A blessing in disguise we have become cyber pilgrims! There is the odd look from the Spanish ladies who by the way are absolutely tiny (height wise) and ALL WEAR FUR COATS I fit in very well. (being tiny width wise myself!!!)

Staying here is like living in a little piece of paradise and I suggest everyone visits here once in their lives. After unpacking I went running up to around 1200m until it was too icy and I realised if I fell that nobody knew where I was and even though I would probably feel like an angel in that moment my time to fall had not come yet so I ran back down the stepped mountain for more pasta and red wine and laughter.

I slept like a small child the energy here and the silence is overwhelming. We woke at 8 and had a wonderful Spanish breakfast then went climbing all day past small shelters which were still inhabited by monks and large crosses. Do I feel closer to God and more spiritual? I certainly feel at peace with the world around me and know that I am closer to understanding my own religious views and thoughts on how to “BE” and take my part in this world.


A rugged mountain not far from Barcelona 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 mountain to venerate the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna (La Moreneta). In 1996.


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 (Santa Cova, the Holy Grotto), where it was rediscovered in 880 AD.

According to the legend of the discovery, which was first recorded in the 13th century, 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.

The Bishop of Manresa, present at the discovery, suggested that it be moved to Manresa, but the small statue was discovered to be so heavy it could not be lifted. Thus the Virgin had indicated her will to stay on Montserrat to be venerated there.

By the 9th century, there were four chapels on Montserrat, of which only one remains - St. Aciscolo's, which is in the monastery's garden. In the 11th century, the abbot-bishop Oliba founded a monastery on the mountain of Montserrat, next to one of the chapels. Many miracles were reported through the intercession of the Virgin Mary at 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 the intercession of the Black Virgin of Montserrat.

Many of the first missionary churches in Mexico, Chile and Peru were dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat and many saints and popes have visited the shrine over the centuries. St. Ignatius Loyola made a pilgrimage to Montserrat after being injured in war, and it was soon after that he wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises.

Due to the great numbers of pilgrims that flocked to Montserrat throughout the Middle Ages, the monastery was enlarged from its original humble size. In 1592, the grand basilica of Montserrat was consecrated.

In the late 18th century, almost the entire sanctuary was destroyed during the Napoleonic invasion. But due to the widespread devotion to the shrine, it was soon restored.

In 1881, Montserrat's Black Madonna was crowned in accordance with Canon Law and proclaimed patron saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII.

What to See

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 daily celebrations of Mass and recitations of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Basilica, next to the monastery, is home to the revered La Moreneta, or Black Virgin. To visit the statue, enter the church through a side door to the right.

The statue of the Virgin, known in Spanish as La Moreneta, is a small Romanesque statue made of wood. It depicts a seated Black Virgin with the child Jesus on her lap. Her dark color is due to changes in the varnish with the passage of time.

The basilica also holds one of the monastery's most noted attractions, the 50-member EscolanĂ­a, 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.

Walking paths and a funicular take visitors to Santa Cova (Holy Grotto), the traditional site of the discovery of the Black Virgin. The grotto dates from the 17th century and was built in the shape of a cross. The funicular goes halfway, but the rest of the trip must be made on foot. OR RUNNING AS I FOUND OUT! xx

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