Every 8 September is National Day in Andorra to honour the national patron saint, “Our Lady of Meritxell”.
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Our Lady of Meritxell is a statue of the Virgin Mary that was long cherished by the people of Andorra. It was first graven in the 1100’s A.D., was destroyed by fire in 1972, and then was reconstructed in 1976 and stored in the Meritxell Chapel.
There is also a legend behind the celebration of Our Lady of Meritxell. The icon is said to have suddenly appeared under a rose bush. Those who found it took it to the local church building, but it turned up again the next day under the same rose bush. Eventually, the people of Meritxell built a new church on the spot of the rose bush, and the churchyard is said to have been kept free of snow that first winter as if by a miracle.
Today, Andorra’s people have National Day as an off-work day. And there are also a few special events held around the country. The statue in the Meritxell Chapel is a special place some visit on this day.