March 25th 1522 - Iņigo's Night-Watch in Montserrat
After his heavy injury in Pamplona and the months of his convalescence Iņigo had experienced a religious change. Now he wanted to be a Pilgrim of Our Lady, wanted to bring to an end his past, and to place a planned pilgrimage to Jerusalem under the protection of the Madonna. At the end of February 1522, nine months after Pamplona, he left the Castle Loyola on a mule. His priestly brother Pedro López and two servants accompanied him some distance. His aim was the famous mountain abbey of the Benedictines in the cliffs of the Montserrat. This 'sawn up mountain' rises up steeply out of the Catalan lowlands, not far from Barcelona (about 40 kilometres). There were hermitages since the ninth century - about twelve at Iņigo's time. About the year 1030 there was established the Benedictine Abbey at a height of 721 metres, on a mountain that towers up to 1241 metres. It developed to a European pilgrimage centre, and is consecrated to the 'Black Madonna'. This holy image is a Romanesque painted wooden sculpture from the end of the eleventh century. Face and hands of the Madonna and the child on her lap are blackened from the smoke of the votive candles shining around the statue.
Iņigo arrived some days before the feast Annunciation. He made a general confession in the abbey. Father Juan Chanones OSB gave him the absolution and a copy of Cisneros 'Exercitatorio de la vida espiritual'. Cisneros had been Abbot in Montserrat from 1499 up to his death in 1510. Closely connected with the Devotio Moderna, he led the monastery to high bloom. He had an effect on St Ignatius' spirituality.
Iņigo presented the abbey with his mule, in the twilight he secretly gave his clothes to a beggar, hung his weapons as oblation on the iron bars of the sanctuary, and held night-watch before the 'Black Madonna' in the penitential robe which he had bought in Igualada, at the foot of the Montserrat. At 2 o'clock in the night of Our Lady's feast the pilgrim mass began, in which Iņigo received the Communion. At daybreak the pilgrim went down into the valley. He had become a knight of God.