Sanctuary of the Virgin of Núria
Núria is a popular place of pilgrimage. Sited at an altitude of almost 2000 metres, it provides not just a natural shelter among the high peaks, but also a spiritual oasis whose history can be traced to ancient origins and traditions. It is the ideal space in which to organise retreats and periods for meditation and prayer.
The priests and the team that look after the sanctuary are at your service to provide a haven of spirituality, with a solemn participative liturgy and the added atmosphere of organ music.
Celebrations at Núria
There are 3 notable feasts which are celebrated at Núria:
June 29: In the past this was the date when the sanctuary was reopened and sheep flocks were once more guided up to mountain pastures. These days it is still celebrated with a solemn mass and a blessing of different breads and porridge.
September 1: Saint Giles' feast day when the Feast of the Shepherds is celebrated. In earlier times, this day marked the end of the season for upper mountain shepherding.
September 8: Held on the birth date of the Virgin Mary, bringing together a large number of people christened with the name Núria. After the mass, the image of the Virgin is carried to the hermitage of Saint Giles, where hymns are sung to her.
The cross, the bell and the pot, a path to fertility
Throughout history, many couples who could find no reason why they could not produce children would come here seeking to be blessed with them; by praying before the cross, placing their head in a pot and ringing the bell, they were granted the gift of fertility. While there is no logical explanation, it is nevertheless a real occurrence that is repeated time and again. Often there are couples who go back up to Núria to give thanks to the Virgin for the child that had been born to them after they had been there and placed their heads in the pot.
The distant origin of this tradition, according to the folk historian Joan Amades, is based on a standing stone that was once found in the valley. Pagan beliefs asserted that women who rubbed themselves there were guaranteed fertility. From the earliest times to the present day the symbolism of fertility has always been there at Núria.
Following a Franciscan congregation held in 1914, a plan was put in place to build a route around the hermitages and sanctuaries to represent the stations of the cross. Núria responded swiftly to the proposal and the following year bishop Benlloch was already laying the foundation stone. Construction of the various stations was funded by donations from associations and the faithful and was continued until 1963, when the final station was completed. The Núria station of the cross, located on the track to the Coma del Clot, stands out for its monumental features and the varied and eye-catching style that each station offers.
Sculptor and painter from the Ripollès region, where he has executed some fifteen public works of art. He has contributed to the restoration of the Núria Stations of the Cross - by signposting and creating two crosses (numbers 5 and 11) -, which was inaugurated last 31st August by the bishop of Seu d'Urgell, Joan Enric Vives. He has also put his creativity to good use in the relocation of the space dedicated to the Virgin of Núria, coming up with a new chapel in the form of an eye, with the Virgin as the iris and the base, shaped like a wing, symbolising peace and spirituality.