The Ruta Mariana is a trail of faith and inspiration that unites the sanctuaries of Pilar, Torreciudad, Montserrat, Lourdes and Meritxell. The several outstanding Marian temples and shrines located on either side of the Pyrenees offer pilgrims an unforgettable experience following the tracks of Maria.
One speciality of the spiritual path that combines art, tradition, history and religion is that it goes through three different countries: the Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées region in France, Andorra up in the Pyrenees and Aragon and Catalonia in Spain. That is why this pilgrim’s path seems so multicultural and distinctive in quality and attributes.
In the beginning, the route only consisted of a small path between El Pilar, Torreciudad and Lourdes. However, many pilgrims continued walking over the mountains until they reached Montserrat. Nowadays, the route includes one more stop, the sanctuary of Meritxell in the mountains of Andorra.
Basilica of our lady of the Pillar (Spain)
A legend holds that the Virgin Mary appeared before the Apostle Saint James (Santiago), standing upon a marble pillar and telling him to build a temple around this particular pillar. It is the only reported apparition of the Holy Mother to have occurred before her believed Assumption.
This is the origin of the basilica in one of the most important Marian cities in the Christian world, Zaragoza. Praised by Pope John Paul II as “Mother of the Hispanic People”, it is the first church dedicated to Mary in history.
Besides the monastery, the city offers a lot more to explore. The roman walls that are more than 2000 years old, the cathedral of San Salvador and La Lonja or the Real Maestrnaza are great examples for Aragonese Renaissance buildings.
distance between Zaragoza and Torreciudad: 150 km (about 2h by bus)
Sanctuary of Torreciudad (Spain)
In 1904, a very ill two year old named Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was taken by his parents to the Black Madonna shrine to be healed. The little boy was cured soon and later founded Opus Dei, a movement that teaches that ordinary life is a path to sanctity, and everyone can be holy. Escrivá was sainted in 2002 and decided about 70 years after his recovery, to build a huge monument for God situated near the shrine that saved his life. The so-called Santuary of Torreciudad was inaugurated on July 7th 1975, shortly after Josemaría Escrivá’s death.
the monument that was ordered to be built by Josemaria Escriva
distance between Torreciudad and Lourdes: 215 km (about 3,5h by bus)
Sanctuary of Lourdes (France)
Until 1858, Lourdes used to be a small, unknown village in the French Pyrenees but when 14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have experienced numerous apparitions of a woman dressed in white, the place gained recognition. The woman eventually introduced herself as the Immaculate Conception, which later would come to be known as our Lady of Lourdes. These apparitions, alongside the healings and miracles performed by the Virgin were recognised by the Church, turning the shrine into the second most important pilgrimage site in the Catholic world.
Other monuments to visit in Lourdes would be the castle Fort of Lourdes or the birth house of Bernadette Soubirous. Walking through the narrow streets and lovely squares of the town will give visitors a magical atmosphere.
distance between Lourdes and Meritxell: 275 km (about 4h by bus)
Sanctuary of Meritxell (Andorra)
The new monastery of Meritxell is the spiritual heart and most important exponent of 20th century architecture of Andorra. Since its opening in 1976, it has considerably enriched the heritage and artistic culture of the country. The historical ensemble of Meritxell, comprised of the old sanctuary (or ancient sanctuary) and the new sanctuary, has been declared an asset of cultural interest by the government of Andorra and the faith, identity and culture of the people of Andorra have made Meritxell a national symbol.
the contemporary art of the sanctuary is of high importance to the small state
Since Meritxell is located in the mountains, it is the perfect place to not only enjoy the spirituality around the shrine but also to admire the beauty and tranquillity of nature.
distance between Meritxell and Montserrat: 170 km (about 2,5h by bus)
Sanctuary of our lady of Montserrat (Spain)
Attracted by a bright light descending from the sky, a group of shepherd children were the first to discover the image of the Virgin in a cave in the year 880. They alerted their families, who went with them to see what the miraculous vision was about. After several appearances of Virgin Mary, the divine events caught the bishop’s attention and he came to see for himself what was going on in Montserrat. The bishop also got to see the image of the Holy Mother and so they decided to build a chapel to worship her in her original place of appearance. This is the origin of the Benedictine Monastery which today is located on the mountain of Montserrat, just 50 km outside of Barcelona.
Since Montserrat is so close to Barcelona, it’s easy to visit the Mediterranean metropolis and enjoy its most emblematic sights like the Sagrada Familia, the gothic quarter, Plaça Catalunya or all the Gaudi art work in Park Güell.
the monastery is located in the mountains on 720 metres above sea level
The Ruta Mariana is a journey that mixes culture, devotion, art and nature. Each of the sanctuaries offers a different way of approaching Mary and offers unique artistic and monumental collections. Due to the Pyrenees orography it is difficult to approach the entire trail by foot or bike, therefor it is possible to do parts of the trip by car, bus or even motorcycle. If you are ready for a unique, spiritual experience do not hesitate to contact us and ask for our Ruta Mariana package for groups!