When was the "Black Virgin of Montserrat" proclaimed as the Patron Saint of Catalonia?
The Monastery of Montserrat, about one hour from Barcelona, located near the top of the 4,000-foot mountain, is home to about 80 monks. The Basilica, next to the monastery, is home to "Santa Maria de Montserrat', the revered Black Virgin, known in Spanish as "La Moreneta". "La Moreneta" is a small Romanesque statue of a seated Black Virgin with the child Jesus on her lap, made of wood around the 12th century. Her dark color is due to changes in the varnish with the passage of time.
The statue soon earned widespread fame as numerous miracles were associated with the intercession of the Black Virgin of Montserrat. Due to the great numbers of pilgrims that flocked to Montserrat throughout the Middle Ages, the monastery was enlarged from its original humble size. In 1592, the grand basilica of Montserrat was consecrated.
In the late 18th century, almost the entire sanctuary was destroyed during the Napoleonic invasion. But due to the widespread devotion to the shrine, it was soon restored. In 1881, Montserrat's Black Madonna was crowned in accordance with Canon Law and proclaimed "patron saint of Catalonia" by Pope Leo XIII.
The basilica also holds one of the monastery's most noted attractions, the 50-member "Escolanía", one of the oldest and most renowned boys' choirs in Europe, dating from the 13th century. At 1 pm daily they can be heard singing "Salve Regina" and the "Virolai" (hymn of Montserrat) in the basilica.