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Stella Splendens

Medieval pilgrim song to Our Lady of Montserrat

Stella Splendens (Resplendent Star) is one of 10 songs from the Llibre Vermell (Red Book), a 14th century manuscript kept in the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain.

Montserrat – meaning “serrated mountain” because of its jagged rocks – has been a major pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages; the pilgrims go to visit a miraculous statue of Our Lady and Christ Child that was found there. This statue – called La Moreneta (The Little Black Lady), is said to have been carved in the early days of the Church in Jerusalem.

Due to Muslim invasions of Spain that began in the 8th century, the statue was taken to Montserrat and hidden in a cave in 718. In 880, some shepherd children were tending their flocks when they saw a brilliant light coming from the cave, accompanied by sweet music. They went there and found the Statue. They reported it to their Bishop, who recognized the supernatural origin of the finding and prodigies that followed. They tried to move the statue from the cave, but it was so heavy that it could not be budged. They interpreted this as Our Lady’s desire to stay there, so a monastery was constructed around it.

Many miracles have been attributed to the Virgin of Montserrat, and it soon became a great pilgrimage site. The devotion spread to Latin America.

This song was composed for pilgrims to sing either in churches and in public places, or on the long walks, which explains its length.

Since the 1978 landmark recording by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX (now XXI), Stella Splendens has became quite popular in early music performance repertoire. It is here interpreted by the New London Consort.

Listen to Stella Splendens by the New London Consort (1996)


Latin text:

Stella splendens in monte ut solis radium
Miraculis serrato, exaudi populum.

1. Concurrunt universi gaudentes populi,
Divites et egeni, grandes et parvuli,
Ipsum ingrediuntur, ut cernunt oculi,
Et inde revertuntur gracis repleti.

2. Principes et magnates ex stirpe regia,
Saeculi potestates optenta venia
Peccaminum proclamant tundentes pectora.
Poplite flexo clamant hic : Ave Maria.

3. Prelati et barones, comites incliti,
Religiosi omnes atque presbyteri,
Milites, mercatores, cives, marinari
Burgenses, piscatores praemiantur ibi.

4. Rustici, aratores, nec non notarii,
Advocati, scultores, cuncti ligni fabri,
Sartores et sutores, nec non lanifici,
Artifices et omnes gratulantur ibi.

5. Reginae, comitissae, illustres dominae,
Potentes et ancillae, juvenes, parvulae
Virgines et antiquae, pariter viduae
Conscendunt et hunc montem, et religiosae.

6. Coetus hic aggregantur hic ut exhibeant
Vota regratiantur ut ipsa et reddant
Aulam istam ditantes, hoc cuncti videant,
Localibus ornantes, soluti redeant.

7. Cuncti ergo precantes sexus utriusque,
Mentes nostras mundantes oremus devote
Virginem gloriosam, Matrem Clementiae,
In Coelis gratiosam sentiamus vere.

English translation:

Resplendent star on the mountain like a sunbeam
Miracles (from Montserrat), hear the people.

1. From all around they rally, rejoicing,
Rich and poor, young and old,
They assemble here to see with their own eyes,
And return from it filled with grace.

2. Rulers and magnates of royal stirpes,
The world's mighty, having obtained indulgence
For their sin, they cry out and beating their breast
They kneel and cry thus: Ave Maria.

3. Prelates and barons, famous counts,
All kinds of religious (monks) and yet priests,
Soldiers, merchants, citizens, sailors,
Burgers and fishermen are recompensed here.

4. Peasants, ploughmen and also scribes,
Advocates, stone-masons and all carpenters,
Tailors and shoemakers, and weavers as well,
All kinds of craftsmen rejoice here.

5. Queens, countesses, illustrious ladies
Powerful women and slave women, youth and girls,
Virgins, old women and widows equally,
Climb this mountain; so do religious (nuns).

6. All assemble here to present their vows,
And they also grateful so that they keep (their vows)
By enriching this shrine, so that all see it,
Decorating it with jewels, and return home released.

7. Therefore, everyone, male and female,
Cleansing our minds, let us devoutly pray
Glorious Virgin, Clement Mother,
Her grace in Heaven may we truly experience.

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Stella Splendens

For a high-resolution PDF version, click here.

For a version arranged for sopranos and basses, click here.

Stella Splendens Manuscript

For a high-resolution image of this manuscript, click here. Original source here.

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La Moreneta

The Virgin of Montserrat with a monk (1640), painting attributed to Friar Juan Rizi.

  1. The Latin reads: "Quia interdum peregrini quando vigilant in ecclesia Beate Marie de Monte Serrato volunt cantare et trepudiare, et etiam in platea de die, et ibi non debeant nisi honestas ac devotas cantilenas cantare, idcirco superius et inferius aliquae sunt scriptae. Et de hoc uti debent honeste et parce, ne perturbent perseverantes in orationibus et devotis contemplationibus, in quibus omnes vigilantes insistere debent pariter et devote vaccare." Translation and text taken from here

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