Montserrat or Monserrat both: mŏn˝sərăt´, mŏnt˝–, Catalan mŏnsər-rät´, Span. mōnsārät´ [key], mountain, 4,054 ft (1,236 m) high, NE Spain, rising abruptly from a plain in Catalonia, NW of Barcelona. On a narrow terrace, more than halfway up its precipitous cliffs, is a celebrated Benedictine monastery, one of the greatest religious shrines of Spain. Only ruins are left of the old monastery (11th cent.). The present monastery was built in the 18th cent. and restored after being destroyed by French troops in 1812. It has a valuable painting collection, library, and museum. The Renaissance church (16th cent.; largely restored in the 19th and 20th cent.) contains the black wooden image of the Virgin which, according to tradition, was carved by St. Luke, brought to Spain by St. Peter, and hidden in a cave near Montserrat during the Moorish occupation. In the Middle Ages the mountain, also called Monsalvat, was thought to have been the site of the castle of the Holy Grail . At Montserrat, St. Ignatius of Loyola devoted himself to his religious vocation just before the founding of the Society of Jesus.
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