July 02, 2011

The Bonete at "El bisbetó de Montserrat"

© pictures: Inter vestibulum et altare, 27th of December 2010

Bisbetó is a Catalan word and it means "little bishop or abbot". The whole story starts in the Monastery of Montserrat.

The Escolanía is a group of children who form the choir of Montserrat. They must first of all have a perfect voice for singing. I do not remember how many they are, but when their voice changes, then they cannot continue. At the Monastery there is a school which the boys attend during the period that they are members of the choir at the Monastery and some of them even learn to play an instrument. Many Catalan musicians have started their career there. Please listen singing the hymn to the Virgin Mary of Montserrat called: Rosa d'avril = April rose.

During the middle age and even in the modern age, in many cathedrals, monasteries, etc. there was a child celebration, the little bishop-bisbetó, protagonized by the choir boys starting the day of Saint Nicholas and ending on the 28th December. This tradition is still in force nowadays at a few places, one of them being Montserrat.
The bisbetó is one of the small boys, chosen by the other boys of the choir. Following the tradition the festivities start on the 6th of December, Saint Nicholas who is furthermore the patron of the boys. In Montserrat these festivities were initiated many many years ago, as a matter of fact in the middle age. On this day a boy from the first year of school is dressed in clothes similar to the bishop, in commemoration of Saint Nicholas  who was a bishop, and during this short period of "reign", he has many privileges, one of them to choose the menu of this day for all the choir members and a banquet, where the Abbot of the Monastery will be present during the meal. He can also choose which "Salve Regina" should be song that day. On the afternoon of this day, the families of the new "bisbetó" will assist in the different things which will be performed this day.
The two boys at the side of the bisbetó, represent his canons.


  1. Thank you so much, dear Mr. Philippi. The photos are most beautiful and the explanation and description you offer is highly interesting. If you allow, we shall consider using this post of you some time (with reference to your blog of course). I wish you a nice Sunday.

    best regards

  2. @ Teresa
    Thank you very much for your comment.
    I was very happy to read your appreciation for my blog.
    Yes. You can use my posts if you want.
    All the best to you and your blog Catholicism Pure and Simple


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...