The Catholic Church will observe Wednesday, April 27, the feast day of Our Lady of Montserrat, the popular Black Madonna of Spain.
Widely venerated in Catalonia, Spain, where devotion to the La Moreneta (Black Madonna) originated, as well as in Puerto Rico and Ecuador, Our Lady of Montserrat is well known for her miraculous intercessory powers.
Hundreds of pilgrims and devotees visit her major shrine at the foot of Montecristi Hill in Ecuador every year.
In Catalonia, Spain, where Our Lady has been widely venerated since the 12th century, the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat is a popular pilgrimage site. She is the Patron Saint of Catalonia, an honor she shares with Saint George.
In the country, the Our Lady of Montserrat Church in San Beda College, Manila was built in honor of the patroness of the Benedictine monks of Manila. Devotion to her is also widespread in Jaro, Iloilo City where a parish church has been erected in her honor.
According to tradition, the image of the Black Madonna with the Child Jesus was carved by St. Luke the Evangelist around 50 A.D. and was brought to Spain. An 18th century polychrome statue of the same image that was gifted by President Joao Goulart of Brazil on the Papal election of Pope Paul VI in 1963, is also displayed in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Previously stored in the Vatican Museums, the image has been on display for Papal masses since the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.
On September 11, 1881, the image was canonically crowned in accordance with Canon Law and was proclaimed as the patroness of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII. Many pilgrims paid homage to her including Saints Vincent Ferrer, Ignatius of Loyola, Aloysius Gonzaga, Peter Claver, and Anthony Mary Claret.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in Barcelona is the founding monastery of the Benedictines in the Philippines. The first Benedictine monks arrived in the country in 1895.