Blog 6: Montserrat, Spain – Barcelona by Moto – Immaculate Conception Parish
Luciano and I took the train yesterday to Montserrat. This mountain-city-sanctuary-Benedictine monastery-spiritual community is only an hour and a half outside of Barcelona and was one of my favorite places to visit so far. Walking two blocks and taking a metro to the light rail, we were soon in the city meeting up with Luciano’s old piano teacher and her husband (Luciano is the one that is sharing his flat on top of the Basilica of the Immaculada Concepcion with me). Minus the few perks that you would have with a Benedictine monk from the monastery, there probably is no better way to see the city than with someone who vacations there almost every year—visiting Montserrat with Montserrat Rabeuntos (the piano teacher who is also named after the Virgin of Montserrat) and Xavier Conte was an exceptional experience:
Café con leche at the apartment, Mass with the Benedictines, another train ride toward the top of the mountain, a two-hour hike with all types of weather, Paella, Café and Montserrat liquor, more hiking, museum, Divine Office readings with the Benedictines (in Catalan), and the Montserrat choir. …Then back down to Barcelona with Wednesday Jones for some Peruvian food.
Oh, yes and most importantly, a new tee shirt! Hopefully these two can last me until Santiago
Barcelona by Motto
Montserrat was by far one of my most favorite places that I have been to so far, but viewing Barcelona by Vespa was one of my favorite ways to see a city. Went to Celebrate Mass with F. Jordi across town, stopped in for some horchata and pastries, toured the cathedral and surrounding city, searched, found, and bought a camera, postage stamps, Turkish food, Guell Park, the beach, another Mass, a pizzeria, and Tibidabo at night (see vlog!).
P.S. yesterday in Montserrat lining the outside of the monastery and leading out from the back of the Basilica there were hundreds of prayer candles. Two are lit for the intentions of you all! At the end of the hall/cave of candles is a ‘promise’ room filled with belongings from pilgrims that have specific prayer promises associated with them. There was everything to ultrasound images and baby shoes to flowers, pictures, and clothes that people had probably had just taken off their back. Thinking it wisest to let the one who knows how to take care of her family best, I left Mary with the task to watch over the holy family (Rosemary and Liz’s saint medal) along with the promise to pray to her everyday in exchange for maintaining her intercessory prayer for those two. (I hope that was okay!??!) Our Lady of Montserrat, Pray for us.
Immaculate Conception Parish
Sunday I found my way home for the next two weeks in Barcelona~ at the Immaculate Conception Basilica. The past few mornings have consisted of a typical Spanish breakfast of coffee and toast with marmalade, Mass, and working in the garden/grotto within the center of the Basilica’s plaza. After hearing that the last time I was in Europe was with my parents and godparents visiting greenhouses for my dad’s job, they let me work, planting bedding plants in the grotto next to the chicken pen~ ‘three little birds singing don’t worry, every little ting gonna be alright.’
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception has a very interesting history. While it has since had some changes after damage from the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Basilica that I am staying at now use to be located across the city. Originally it formed the monastery of Santa Maria Jonqueres. Having once sat just outside old city Barcelona, the monastery was dismantled at the end of the nineteenth century and moved to where it is today, in order to make room for the expanding city. Today, it functions as one of the busiest parishes in Barcelona. According to Luis, a parishioner here, there are five to six filled Masses a day, everyday, which hasn’t been the case at most other parishes around here. In my opinion a lot of it probably has something to do with the youthful-in-spirit priest and the time and energy they put toward developing their youth programs.
World Youth Day- The Catalan Youth
Since being here I have had the opportunity to re-live the WYD 2011 experience with those that traveled with the Immaculate Conception parish to Madrid. Through pictures and testimonies of their experience during a party that the parish put on, adoration Thursday night, and a Sunday get-together that included a brief organ practice, I definitely have a better sense of what it means to be Catalonian.
For those of you that were unaware, Spain is a small country with an enormous variety of languages, cultures, geography, and history packed inside of it. Here in Barcelona, I am in Catalonia, where the main language is Catalan—it’s almost like Italian with French and what we refer to as Spanish (or Castillian). There are some pretty prideful Catalonians that avoid speaking Spanish at all costs, but for the most part everyone seems to know both languages very well.
So far the days here in Barcelona have been either jam-packed with millions of things or as has been the case these past two days, entire days spent trying to fix technical problems. I came to the Basilica here last Sunday and will be leaving next Thursday (almost two weeks). Then Lourdes…?