[D] Mr. THALDITZER.
In the archives of Montserrat they shew you a letter written to the Abbe by King Philip the second, who begins, “venerable and devout Religieux,” and tells him, he approves of his zeal, of his building a new church at Montserrat, charges him to continue his prayers for him, and, to shew his zeal for that holy house, informs him, that the bearer of his letter is Etienne Jordan, the most famous sculptor then in Spain, who is to make the new altar-piece at the King’s expence, and they agreed to pay Jordan ten thousand crowns for the design he laid before them: the altar was made at Valladolid, and was brought to Montserrat on sixty-six waggons; and as Jordan did much more to the work than he had engaged to perform, the King gave him four thousand crowns over and above his agreement, and afterwards gave nine thousand crowns more, to gild and add further ornaments to it.
At the death of Philip the Second, his son, Philip, the Third, assisted in person to remove the image of the Virgin from the old to the new church; which I shall hereafter mention more fully. Before this noble altar, in which the figure of the Virgin stands in a nitch about the middle of it, are candlesticks of solid silver, each of which weighs eighty pounds; they are a yard and a half high; and yet these are mere trifles, when compared to the gold and jewels which are shewn occasionally.
The monks observe very religiously their statutes; nor is there a single hour in the day that you find the church evacuated.—I always heard at least two voices chanting the service, when the monks retire from the church, which is not till seven o’clock at night; the pilgrims continue there in prayer the greater part of the night.