Montserrat, Abbey of
MONTSERRAT, ABBEY OF
Benedictine monastery on a mountain near Barcelona, Spain; aggregated to the congregation of subiaco with 150 professed monks. It was founded as a priory by Oliva of Ripoll c. 1025 on the site of a 9th-century hermitage. Benedict XIII made it an independent abbey (1409). Hermits lived there with the cenobites from the 11th century to the late 19th. The monastery belonged to the cloistered congregation of Tarragona until 1493, when the reform of Valladolid was introduced. The first reform abbot, García Ximénez de cisneros (d. 1510), published in 1500 Exercitatorio de la vida spiritual, which through Montserrat's ascetic school influenced ignatian spirituality. Other devotional and liturgical works were published at Montserrat (1499–1500, 1518–26). In the 16th and 18th centuries, besides traditional ecclesiastical disciplines, the monks cultivated history, classical literature, natural sciences, painting, and music. From the boys choir school (Escolania ), 13th century in origin, came famous composers, organists, and musical directors: Juan Marqués (1582–1658), Juan Cererols (d. 1680), Narciso Casanovas (1747–99), Antonio Soler (1729–83), and Fernando Sor (1778–1839).
The abbey was destroyed by Napoleon's troops (1811) and lay vacant during secularization (1835–44) and the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). It is famed for its museum of paintings, Biblical and Middle Eastern museums, and a library of 180,000 volumes, 1,350 MSS, and 400 incunabula. The musical archives hold some 2,000 MSS; and the monastery archives (13th–19th century), some 5,000 parchment and 30,000 paper documents. The abbey publishes Biblia de Montserrat, Analecta Montserratensia, Studia Monastica, and Scripta et Documenta, as well as liturgical and pastoral publications. The shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat (La Moreneta ), patroness of Catalonia, has been a pilgrimage center since the Middle Ages. Of the original church there remain only the Romanesque portal (12th–13th century) and the Gothic cloister, built under the commendatory abbot Cardinal Giulio della Rovere (1472–83). The present church, a minor basilica (1881), dates from the late 16th century. Miracles attributed to the image of Our Lady of Montserrat (polychrome wood, Romanesque, c. 1200) and the brotherhood formed in 1225 have spread her cult in Europe and Latin America.
Bibliography: a. m. albareda, História de Montserrat (3d ed. Montserrat 1946); L'abat Oliva, fundador de Montserrat (Montserrat 1931); Sant Ignasi a Montserrat (Montserrat 1935); "Intorno alla scuola di orazione metodica stabilita a Monserrato dall'abbate Garsias Jiménez de Cisneros, 1493–1510," Archivum historicum Societatis Jesu 25 (1956) 254–316. g. colombÁs, Un reformador benedictino en tiempo de los reyes católicos: García Jiménez de Cisneros, abad de Montserrat (Scripta et documenta 5; Montserrat 1955). a. olivar, comp., Catáleg dels incunables de la biblioteca de Montserrat (ibid. 4; Montserrat 1955). d. pujol, ed., Música instrumental (Mestres de l'escolania de Montserrat; Montserrat 1930–34).