The legend traces the foundation of the abbey in the year 880
On a Saturday afternoon at nightfall, shepherds saw a powerful light come down from the sky accompanied by a beautiful melody.
The following Saturday, the vision was repeated. The four Saturdays following the rector of Olesa accompanied them and could see the miraculous vision. According to the legend told in the Virolai de Montserrat, a song of praise to the Virgin of Montserrat, angels cut the Montserrat massif with a gold saw2 (hence the popular etymology of Montserrat, “Mont-sawed” because the silhouette toothed massif evokes the serrated blade of a saw) to house the statue of the Virgin and the abbey.
This legend is at the origin of the heraldic symbol of Montserrat: a saw, sometimes held by angels and sometimes alone, but always above a drawing of stylized rocks3.
After learning of the event, the bishop who was in Manresa organized a climb to the Montserrat during which a cave was discovered where there was an image of the Blessed Virgin. The bishop proposed to transfer her to Manresa, but as soon as they tried to move her, she became so heavy that he could not move her. The man of the Church interpreted this as the will of the Blessed Virgin to stay in this place and decided to build a chapel on the site.
Since this legend whose oldest story is a text dated 12394, Montserrat is considered a hotbed of both Spanish and Catalan Catholicism (it is the patron saint of Catalonia), since it is celebrated on April 27th. Outside the monastery and the Holy Grotto, the massif has a number of small churches and abandoned hermitages.
The Blessed Virgin, familiarly called Moreneta (black) for its dark color, was carved out of wood at the end of the 12th century; it is a black Madonna as there are in some places of Europe.