Sunday, February 26, 2006
Montserrat Part 2
This first picture is of the backside of the Basilica. It's quite beautiful. The second picture on the right is of the inside courtyard of the basilica. It's also very beautiful. (I'll be repeating myself a lot if "beautiful" is the only word I can think of to describe this place. It's all beautiful!)
I found the statuary over the door portals to be the most attractive to the eye. And of course, you need a pic of yours truly to put it into scale. (grin)
One of the most famous attractions, and the thing that caused the Catalonians to build a monastery and church way, way up in the mountains in the first place is something called the Black Madonna. It's a very old wooden statue of the Madonna and Christ Child whose skin, for some reason, turned black. It's really interesting because the rest of the statue still remains covered in gilt (gold leaf).
The mountains there are full of weird little caves and grotos. So the Catalonian Christians, hid the madonna in a cave around 800 A.D. and didn't return to fetch it until about 1000 A.D. Most scholars think that they really didn't fetch it - they lost/forgot about it.
So when the Moors were finally pushed back far enough for it to be safe and/or they rediscovered it. They brought it back out for the Benedictine monks to enjoy. The monastary was seiged and destroyed by Napoleon around 1849. So when the Spaniards rebuilt it, they made it an open place of pilgrimage. Looking around this very beautiful but exceedingly remote place at such a high elevation made me wonder - what the heck were they thinking!!! It must've been an incredibly hard endeavor to build it not just once, but twice at a time when only human and animal power was available.
BTW - in the picture at right, you can see a tiny white area elevated up in the back of the choir. That's the area where the Black Madonna is visible to the sanctuary. Very few churches have that feature.
Well, I have one last thought to share. As it says in the book of Proverbs, it's better to have a simple soup where there's love than a great banquet where there's no love. I've had a banquet of the eyes for sure, but I was alone the whole time. :^( ...maybe next time will be different.
One last view... Cheers! -Kev