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|Catalunya / Cataluña||Catalonia|
Montserrat abbey is located at an elevation of 721 m on the mountain of Montserrat in Monistrol de Montserrat, about 48 km northwest of Barcelona.
The mountain of Montserrat has been of religious significance since pre-Christian times, when the Romans built a temple to honor the Roman goddess Venus. The monasteries of Santa Maria de Ripoll, Montserrat and Saint-Martin-du-Canigou were founded between 1025 and 1035. Already in 1082 the Montserrat monastery became dependent on the Ripoll monastery. At the end of the 12th century, the number of monks on the Montserrat was limited to twelve — just enough to continue to be considered an abbey. In 1409 and 1431 the independence of the monastery was restored by papal decrees. However, after the unification of Castile and Aragon through the marriage of the Catholic Kings in 1469 and the conquest of Granada (1492), Fernando II sent monks from Valladolid, so that the monastery was once again under external control. The late medieval monastery was destroyed by Napoleon's troops in 1809 and 1811, and fell under confiscation of the Spanish monasteries in 1835. In 1844, independent monastic life stirred again in the old walls, which were largely renewed in the following years. Today's monastery church was built by Leo XIII. raised to the papal basilica minor in 1881. The monastery still functions to this day, with over 70 monks.
The Virgin of Montserrat (Virgen de Montserrat in Castilian Spanish, Mare
de Déu de Montserrat in Catalan, popularly called La Moreneta)
is located in the sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat,
next to the Benedictine monastery nestling in the towers and crags of the mountain. She is the Patron Saint of Catalonia,
an honour she shares with Saint George (Sant Jordi in Catalan). By one account, the image of the Madonna was moved to
Montserrat in 718, to avoid the danger posed by invading Saracens. Legend has it that the Benedictine monks could not move
the statue to construct their monastery, choosing to instead build around it. The statue's sanctuary is located at the rear
of the chapel, where an altar of gold surrounds the icon, and is now a site of pilgrimage. The 95-cm statue shows evidence
of Byzantine conventional and stylized form, and is painted in polychrome. The reliquary statue of Sainte-Foy in Conques
(southern France) may have been a model. The art historical designation for this type of pose is called "Throne of Wisdom".
The body is thin, the face elongated. She holds an orb of the earth in her right hand. The Child's hand is raised in a
formalized and traditional Eastern blessing.