A difficult stage: ascending the 450 very steep meters towards the Benedictine Monastery and the Virgen of Montserrat will not be an easy walk. But the effort is rewarded by the beauty of the mountain of Montserrat and the joy of arriving at such a symbolic place for the ignatian family. Those on bicycle do not have to take the mountain path from Can Massana, as they can continue on the road, which is a beautiful descent towards the Benedictine Monastery.
CASTELLOLÍ: small town. Its name comes from the ruins of Auli Castle, X century. We will find restaurant, supermarket, pharmacy, health centre and bank.
SANT PAU DE LA GUARDIA: The complex does not offer any service.
MONTSERRAT: The mountain is a very special setting, adequately reflected in its name: “Montserrat” means “sawn mountains”. Although the history of the complex is uncertain, it seems that the chapels were built in this place in the IX century (San Aciscolo Chapel, in the garden of the monastery, the ruins of this period).
The Benedictine monastery founded in the XI century flourishes in Montserrat Mountain as the wild flowers we have seen along our way. The vitality of the Benedictine community is offered in their liturgies (Eucharist at 11h) and the irradiation of their presence in the social and political spectrum of Catalonia. Their presence and that of the Virgin of Montserrat have been a reference of faith and attention to pilgrims over the centuries. In the presence of the Virgin, we thank God for the way we have covered so far and we confide in Him for the last stage that will take us to Manresa, the Ignatian city.
According to tradition, the famous statue of the Black Virgin was carved by St. Luke the Evangelist in the first century and for some time hidden from the Muslims in the Saint Cave. Historians suggest that the statue dates back to the XII century. To the monastery, and especially to the statue, many pilgrims have come for centuries and many miraculous healings have been reported (Montserrat has registered more than two million visitors in some years). In 1592, the great basilica was consecrated in order to accommodate the rising traffic of pilgrims; almost totally destroyed during the Napoleonic invasion (1811), it was rebuilt in the decade of 1850.
The Black Virgin is not carved in black Wood, but it owes its color to the smoke of the candles presented as offering that has interacted with the varnish of the statue for many years.
A long descending way takes us to Cova Santa (Saint Cave), the traditional place for the finding of the Black Virgin. The cave, built in the XVII century, has a cross-shaped basis. It is also possible to take a funicular that will leave us half-way to the cave. Views from some of the mountain paths are spectacular, although pilgrims who have done all the way from Loyola could feel exempt from ascending the steep hills towards a wonderful view.
The collection at the Montserrat Museum includes Gothic altarpieces and paintings by El Greco, Monet and Picasso. The Espai Audivisual illustrates life and spirituality of monks through multimedia exhibitions.
The facade of the basilica, which dates back to 1901, represents Christ and the twelve Apostles. Once in the basilica, you should follow the indications towards “Cambril de la Mare de Déu” in order to visit the Sanctuary of the Black Virgin. Across the yard at the entrance of the basilica is a room where votive offerings are exposed.
The complex offers restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, health center, bank and tourist office (Tel. 938 777 777)