Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses

We continued on through the Pyrennes today with Jim driving the narrow winding roads.  We saw sharp peaks without any cover of trees, bushes, or grass.  There were many ski areas.  We saw cattle grazing along the narrow flat spaces by the road and heard their bells clunking. 

 Becky had found a mention of this old monastery about 11 kms further into the mountains, and we decided it sounded interesting enough to drive up.  It was a wonderful  experience.  The monastery, formerly a convent, was consecrated in 1150. 

In the main chapel was a multi-faceted wooden sculpture. The group of figures representing the scene of the descent from the cross were carved in 1251 and seemed to me to have a very modern feel.  In 1426 apparently an intact piece of communion wafer was found on the Christ figure's head, and the piece has become even more venerated. 

What really impressed me was what happens to sound in this dark cavernous  Romanesque space.  It doesn't echo but has an eerie slow fade into nothingness.  It seems to go on and on around the space. Wonderful and strange.  There was an associated museum with other artifacts from the history of the monastery.

Tonight we have joined Erin, John, Kylie and Austin and are together in an apartment in Barcelona.  After our late pizza some of us viewed the Sagrada Familia lit by huge spotlights. Tomorrow will be another bright and hot day in this city of Gaudi, Miro, and Picasso.  Kathy


  1. I can see Jim driving winding roads. The monastery sounds so elegant. The dark cavernous, eerie parts sound so exciting. Great blogging. Are any of you tired yet?

  2. Hi Jane, I was really interested before coming to Spain in what the "religious experience" meant to the people living during those earlier periods and Spain is so much about the Catholic Church, religious suffering. It is all so close to the bone here, very removed from my own experience. In that monastary space I felt like I might have understood a bit of what it meant to have excluded the outside world which might have felt very chaotic, and find safety, peace,meanig,and time to think ( gracias a Dios), Kathy