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Montserrat Virgin Feast: A Montecristi Tradition

Montserrat Virgin Feast: A Montecristi Tradition | Start Living Ecuador

On November Montecristi becomes a religious capital because of the celebrations of the Virgin of Montserrat, where faith gathers thousands of people.

Every November Montecristi becomes a religious capital of Manabi because the celebrations of the Virgin of Montserrat start. This celebration, where more than 70 masses are held, ends on the 21st of November with a procession of the image of the Virgin along the streets of the city.

But until that, people from all over Manabí would have arrived usually by walking great distances. It is the faith that gathers thousands of peoples in this peregrination for the Virgen of Montserrat and brings them to the Basilica on the slopes of Montescristi hill.

A custom passed from generation to generation, it has become a tradition amongst families to take this journey with grandparents, mothers, fathers, and children.

History of the Virgin of Montserrat 

Known as the Morenita, the Virgin of Montserrat is one of the Black Virgins people are devoted to. This one, in particular, has its origins in Cataluña, Spain. Legends there said that the image was carved in the first years of the Church in Jerusalem, and that San Etereo, Bishop of Barcelona, took her with him. The original image of the Virgin of Montserrat is a wooden statue representing the Virgin and Child. It is called “black virgin” because of its color, although studies made of this image have revealed that it has been painted and that it is possible that the varnish covering its face and hands chemically reacts to the candles that for so many years burned in front of the image.

Many people have put their faith in this Virgin because it is said that helps women to conceive and also because she is a healer.

In Ecuador, the image of the Virgin of Montserrat in the Basilica of Montecristi was donated over 500 years ago by the Spaniards. According to some history texts from the Church (Father Bernardo Recio), the image of the Virgin was a gift from Emperor Carlos V to be venerated in Lima (Peru). On board of the ship carrying the Virgin of Monstserrat was also the image of the Virgin of La Merced, this last was brought to stay in the Port of Manta. After the ship had left the port of Manta, they had to overcome several problems and finally had to come back to Manta, so the crew took it as an omen and changed the virgins, the Virgin of Monserrat was left in Manta, and Virgin of La Merced was shipped to Peru.

And because Manta was a port that was constantly attacked by pirates, the image of the Virgin was taken to Montecristi for safe keeping. Between 1950-1962 the Basilica was built.

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