Our Lady of Meritxell
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Our Lady of Meritxell (Catalan: Mare de Déu de Meritxell, IPA: [ˈmaɾə ðə ˈðew ðə məɾiˈtʃeʎ], locally: [ˈmaɾe ðe ˈðew ðe meɾiˈtʃeʎ]) is an Andorran Roman Catholic statue depicting an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of Meritxell is the patron saint of Andorra. The original statue dates from the late 12th century. However, the chapel in which it was housed burned down on September 8 and 9, 1972, and the statue was destroyed. A replica can be found in the new Meritxell Chapel, designed in 1976 by Ricardo Bofill.
The Catalan philologist Joan Coromines says that "Meritxell" is a diminutive of merig, from the Latin meridiem (midday in English). Merig is a name used by shepherds to denote a pasture with lot of sun.
In the late 12th century, on January 6, a wild rose in bloom was found by villagers from Meritxell going to Mass in Canillo. It was out of season and at its base was found a statue of the Virgin and Child.
The statue was placed in the Canillo church. However, the statue was found under the same wild rose the next day.
As in similar legends elsewhere, the villagers of Meritxell took this as a sign and decided to build a new chapel in their town after they found an open space miraculously untouched by the winter snows.
|Our Lady of Meritxell|
|Also called||Diada de Meritxell, festivitat de Nostra Senyora de Meritxell|
|Next time||8 September 2014|
The feast day of Our Lady of Meritxell is September 8 and the Andorran National Holiday.
"Meritxell" is a relatively frequent female name among Andorran women and other Catalan-speaking women. Examples are:
- Meritxell Lavanchy, actress.
- Meritxell Mateu i Pi, former foreign minister of Andorra.
- Meritxell Batet Lamaña, member of the Council of Europe.