According to one legend, Luke carved this statue
with Mary sitting as his model and him using the carpentry tools
of Joseph. Later Peter brought it from Jerusalem to Barcelona. -
Another story says that some other disciple in Jerusalem carved
her and that she had some connection with St. James, the brother
of Jesus who led the church in Jerusalem and later went to Spain.
This version credits Bishop St. Eteres with bringing the image to
Asides from these discrepancies, the story continues uniformly.
In the 8th century Spain was invaded by Muslims and Barcelona besieged
for three years. In 718, when defeat was imminent, Our Lady was
taken to the nearby mountains, hidden in a cave, and apparently
Then, in 890 she decided to come out of hiding. One night two young
shepherds saw a mysterious light and heard angelic singing in the
mountains. They alerted a priest, who witnessed the same phenomena.
He in turn called the bishop who perceived the same signs and found
them coming from a cave. Entering, they found the Jerusalemite.
When the bishop tried to take her to his cathedral, no one could
move the 38 inch small statue. Only when it was decided to build
her a sanctuary right in those mountains, a little ways above her
cave, did she allow herself to be picked up. The Santa Cova, her
Holy Cave, can still be visited. A beautiful, steep foot path or
the cog train from the sanctuary will lead you there.
A monastery grew up around the Jerusalemite, which became instrumental
in spreading the cult of Black Madonnas throughout the world. Many
churches, settlements, even islands in the New World (in Mexico,
Chile and Peru) were named after Our Lady of Montserrat. So she
may be seen as the Mother of the dark Madonnas of the Americas.
Her church with surrounding monastery and hotels. Photo: