By Christina Hermoso
Devotees of the Blessed Mother from around the world will observe tomorrow the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, the popular Black Madonna of Spain.
Highly 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 famous for her miraculous intercessory powers.
Every year, on her feast day, pilgrims and devotees gather at her major shrine at the foot of Montecristi Hill in Ecuador. In Catalonia, Spain, where Our Lady has been widely venerated since the 12th century, devotees attend the commemorative masses at the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.
In the country, feast masses will be celebrated at the Our Lady of Montserrat Church, San Beda College in Manila in honor of the patroness of the Benedictine monks of Manila. Festivities will also be held in her honor in Jaro, Iloilo City.
According to tradition, the image of the Black Madonna was carved by St. Luke the Evangelist around 50 A.D. and was brought to Spain. In 1881, the image was canonically crowned in accordance with the 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.