Hermitage of the Catalans, a treasure of cultural heritage
On an elevation of the busy Havana avenue of Rancho Boyeros, in a wooded setting, stands the Church of Our Lady of Montserrat, known as the Hermitage of the Catalans, a legacy of the significant presence in Cuba of the children of that Iberian land.
The beautiful Catholic temple, of typical Mediterranean architecture with numerous elements of the Catalan identity, consists of three naves, measuring 28 meters in length and its facade has a height of 22 meters.
The existence of the building, which has had two different locations, is due to the initiative of the priest Pere Muntadas who, together with Catalan associations on the island, conceived the idea of building a church dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat, patron saint of Catalonia.
The first stone was laid in 1886, but various incidents delayed its construction until 1921, on the Loma del Tadino grounds, which currently occupies the José Martí Memorial, in the Plaza de la Revolución. In 1951, the Cuban State expropriated the land where the sanctuary was established to build there what was then called the Civic Square and the monument to the apostle of Cuban independence.
That same year, in its current location, began the preparatory work for the construction of the temple, to which, from the previous hermitage were taken marbles, stained glass windows, leaded windows, the altar and the image of La Moreneta. On November 2, 1952, the first stone was laid and on December 12, 1952 the first mass took place at the new building, in charge of architects Vicente J. Sallés and Francisco G. Padilla, and carried out in the likeness of the Church Nostra Senyora de l'Esperança de S'Agaró.
Belonging to the Natural Charity Society of Catalonia, the sanctuary was the result of the donation of Catalan families settled in Cuba. In recognition of its values, the hermitage was chosen in 2012 among the “7 Treasures of the Cultural Heritage of Outer Catalonia”, by popular vote through the Internet, in a campaign called by the International Federation of Catalan Entities.