An adult choir was singing, and then it got to the point where someone checked and Marta was about to head to the inside portion of the line. So, we joined her. Luckily, the line runs along the side chapels inside so we were still able to hear them. They sounded like little voices from heaven. And when they are done one little boy says thank you or goodbye or something in a bunch of different languages...and then off they go. The file off in their little robes with their arms stuck inside, looking sort of reminiscent of wingless penguins.
On the first link above, if you look closely above the boy's choir, you can see people filing past on what appears to be a balcony. That is where the Virgin is. She is a Black Madonna, and the Christ Child sits on her lap. I didn't take a photo because that seemed disrespectful to me (although plenty of other people did). Not really disrespectful to her, but there was a really long line to see her. You can click the link to see what she looked like.
There is a lot to see while you wait in line though. It's just a beautiful place. I took a lot of pictures, but most of them looked pretty bad. I need a better camera.
|Close up of some of the carving in an archway.|
This is one of the martyred saints. I think there were two walls of women saints...one with virgin martyrs and one with non-virgin martyrs.I forget who this one was, but I think she was burned.
So, they say that you make a promise to the Virgin and then ask for a favor and touch her hand. The example Marta gave us was of someone she knew who told the Virgin that if she granted this person their wish for a child, she would climb up Montserrat on her knees. Shortly thereafter, she became a mother. And she has been crawling up Montserrat on her knees, a little bit at a time. 50 feet one day...get in the car. Come back a few weeks later, another 50 feet (or something like that). Sneaky! I did ask for something, but I don't remember what I promised. Oops.
Now, this is not the original Madonna that was found in the woods...Marta said no one has ever given her a straight answer about where she is. Hmmm.....
After we visited the Virgin, you walk through the Ava Maria passageway, which I thought was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Candles upon candles upon candles of prayers.
Then, there is this little room with all sorts of "stuff". A wedding dress, baby clothes, various doll parts (arms, legs), all sorts of things. Marta explained to us that when you ask the Virgin for a favor, and she grants it, many people come back and leave something behind to thank her. So for instance, you may pray for pain in your arm to go away. Obviously, you can't leave you arm behind, but a doll's arm represents that.
Then we wandered a bit around seeing nothing in particular until we headed to the cafeteria for lunch. Ham and cheese sandwiches again. Yum!
After lunch we walked down the mountain just a wee bit. We walked along the pathway a little ways that has art depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Each station has statue depicting that piece of Christ's life and there is information about the artist and who donated the money for the piece of art. The ones we saw were all beautiful. Then we took the funicular back up the mountain.
There was a wonderful little market going on. I bought some honey and fig bread? Date bread? Gah...I can't remember, but Marta said it was a local specialty.
I'd love to head back to Montserrat someday and hike all the way out to the chapel that stands where they originally found the Virgin, see all the statues, explore the gift shop, art museum.
|This guy was obviously tired.|
|See you tomorrow!|