Sanctuary of Lluc
The legend behind the founding of the Sanctuary of Lluc begins with a Moorish boy, by the name of Lluc (Catalan version of Lucas), shortly after the Christian conquest of Majorca in 1229. According to the legend, the boys’ parents had recently converted from Islam to Catholicism. Legend says that Lluc on one Sunday afternoon, while herding sheep, saw a bright light and found a black statue of the Virgin Mary.
The boy decided to bring the statue back with him, to the parish priest and the church in nearby Escorca, where the statue of the Black Madonna was given a place of honour in the church. The news about this statue and its sudden appearance spread like wildfire, and the nest day people came from the nearby villages to see the Black Madonna. The priest opened up the church and led the congregation to the altar where he had placed the statue, but the altar was empty and the statue was nowhere to be seen. Then the boy Lluc appeared, carrying the statue, and told that he had once again found it, in the exact same place as the day before.
The statue was once again places inside the church, and the doors were locked and the entrances guarded well. No one entered or exited the church until the doors were unlocked the next day when they found that the statue had once again disappeared. When it was once again found on the same place the boy Lluc had found it, the priest and his congregation realised that the Black Madonna or La Moreneta as she is also called had shown them to a sacred place. And in this very place the Sanctuary of Lluc was erected. Since then the statue has not disappeared, but seems to be content with where it is.
The Sanctuary of Lluc is often referred to as the spiritual centre of Majorca. Every year many make the pilgrimage from Palma to the Sanctuary, on foot. The Sanctuary is located on the north of Majorca, in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and the famous mountain range Sierra de Tramuntana, 500 meters above sea level. The Sanctuary is also home to a boarding school where all the children sing in a choir. The choir, Els Blauets which translates to “The Blue” in Catalan, is well-known and it is an old and appreciated tradition, with roots from the 13th century. At the boarding school there are approximately 40 boys and girls studying, with great focus on singing in the choir. The sing praise every morning and evening and performs on Sundays and other special masses. The Easter week is very famous and well visited. The Christmas Mass is also very popular as one of The Blue sings the “Cant de la Sibila” (Song of the Sybil), a prophecy from the Middle Ages about the worlds end, that in the year 2010 was declared a part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The Sanctuary is also a common starting point for many of the hiking trails in the area, and is a perfect base for exploring and discover the beautiful mountain range Sierra de Tramuntana, either by foot or by bike. In the vicinity of the Sanctuary you will find some of the more famous mountain tops on the island, like Puig de Massanella, Puig de Tomir, Puig d’en Galileu and Puig Roig.
The Sanctuary of Lluc has many things to offer. Amongst other things you will find cafes, camping areas, and an amazing botanical garden that displays more than 200 different plants that are typical for the Balearic Islands, and as far as possible they are displayed as they would look in a “wild” environment. There is also an area dedicated to aromatic and medicinal plants, typical from the island of Majorca. The garden is open to the public between 10-13 and 15-18, and entrance is free of charge, even though some small contribution towards the upkeep of the garden is always welcome. We also find a museum (entrance fee 4 €) where the sanctuary shows you archaeological finds, amazing gifts that have been bestowed upon the Black Madonna, typical Majorcan clothing and furniture, and a whole room filled with artwork by the Catalan artist Josep Coll Bardolet, only to name some of the things you can find here. The museum is open every day from 10-14, except Saturdays. As you may well have noticed at Lluc there is something for every taste, whether you come here to listen to the heavenly choir or to go hiking in the mountains. Lluc is well worth a visit.
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