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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 monastery was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries, and still functions to this day, with over 70 monks. The basilica of Montserrat was begun in the 16th century and began to be completely rebuilt in the year 1811, after being destroyed in the Peninsular War (1807–1814). In 1881 it was granted the status of basilica minor.
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.