We took off the following day with gorgeous blue skies for Monserrat Mountain, probably what is Catalonia’s most famous mountain range. It looks like the toothed blade of a saw and does explain its name…Montserrat means “jagged mountain”. At the top of the range is a famous monastery. This monastery has a couple of claims to fame. First it is the home of the Mare de Deu de Montserrat, better known as La Morenet or the little dark-skinned one. The wooden carved statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus has turned a darker color over the years, giving her the name of the Black Madonna. Actually, what nature started to do to the varnish that was used, the locals have “enhanced”. It was explained that she now has had some touching up to keep her skin looking beautiful…and dark. Despite the assistance, she is apparently quite famous and there are long lines of people weaving through the church to get a glimpse of her.
The monastery is also the home of one of the oldest children’s choir. They run a special school where the boys study regular subjects as well as music, learning 2 musical instruments as well as singing. They only take boys between the ages of 8 to about 11 (when their voice changes) and the choir is well known in this region. We had the opportunity to hear a few songs in a special performance just for the tourists. The most outstanding and amazing thing was that the priest who welcomed us. He shared with us information about the boys and the church - and he said it in 6 different languages!