About the country of Andorra:
Nestled between Spain and France, Andorra is one of the world's smallest countries, with a total population of only about 85,000 people. Perhaps best known for its sheep and Andorra wool it is also home to the shrine of Our Lady of Maritxell.
About the miracle:
In the Twelfth Century--we are not sure what year--on January 6, (the Feast of the Epiphany) local villagers were on their way to Mass in Canillo when they spotted a rose growing from the side of the hill.
Obviously this was not the time of the year for roses (if this sounds familiar, see Our Lady of Guadalupe). As they came closer to the rose bush they saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They carried the statue to the church and placed it on the altar.
The next day when the church was opened they could not find the statue, and feared that it had been stolen, until someone came along and told them that they had seen the statue on the hillside where it was found originally.
The country is predominantly Catholic and as a result many of its celebrations revolve around specific feast days. Notable celebrations are Saint George's Day, Saint John's Day, Feast of Saint Stephen and Saint Lucia's Fair where Christmas decorations are featured. Attending one of these can be a great opportunity to participate in the life of the citizens of this country. September 8th is National Day (day of independence) and is observed by making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Virgin of Meritxell.
As might be expected from a country influenced by its nearby larger neighbors, language can be a barier. Catalan is the official language; however most shopkeepers and others speak Spanish or French. Many inhabitants speak some English as well.
About the Shrine of Our Lady of Meritxell:
In 1992 the original sanctuary was destroyed by fire and so was the statue. The Sanctuary has now been rebuilt and contains a replica of the statue.
The Sanctuary is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 1pm and then in the afternoon from 3pm to 6pm. It is open Sundays from 9am to 1pm.
Andorra la Vela is about 125 miles north of Barcelona. The nearest major airports are in Barcelona and Tarbes, as well as Lourdes. Lourdes is a bit closer than Tarbes but has fewer daily flights. There is no train service.
Address: AD100 Meritxell, Andorra
GPS coordinates: 42° 33' 21.3660'' N, 1° 35' 14.9316'' E
Tel: +(376) 851 253