Painting Spring, A Monastery and Blossoming Almond Trees

Mar 20, 2017

"El Monasterio de Sant Jeroni de la Murtra", 2017, oil on linen, 73x81cm

Sant Jeroni de la Murtra is an old Gothic monastery located in the Valle de Belén (The Valley of Bethlehem), near the city of Badalona, not far from Barcelona. This is a very  inspiring location in which to paint and draw, go walking, or have a picnic. The surrounding park area with its many walking paths, the flora you can enjoy along the way, and the fantastic views of the Mediterranean sea in the distance  all combine to make this a very special place to visit. Another feature I was drawn to was the almond trees which were in blossom then. Blossoming almond trees, as with spring, symbols of rebirth and new beginnings.

study for painting (sketchbook), 21x16cm

Monastery History

The monastery has a rich history.  It belonged to the order of the Hieronymites and was founded in 1416, by the Barcelonese merchant Bertran Nicolau.  A notable fact was the reception of Christopher Columbus by the Catholic Monarchs, benefactors of the monastery, upon his return from the first voyage to the New World, in April, 1493. The   the monastery was inhabited by the monastic order until 1835, when it was partially destroyed by a fire.  At the end end of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, it became a summer colony for locals. Cells and other rooms were converted into apartments, shops,  and even a theater, all to accommodate the tastes of residents.

The Murtra, A Place of Peace

In 1947, Francesca Güell i López purchased the former monastery in order to restore it and convert it into a place of solitude and silence. She thought that the world of today, where life is stressful and noisy, needs places where people find rest for the soul. All that is required is the desire to experience solitude and silence. This place of retreat/sanctuary is open to anyone and is an interreligious and intercultural space. There  are now a few such places in the world with the denomination of Murtra.  Each Murtra is overseen by people dedicated to offering a place of solitude and silence.

Murtra is Spanish for myrtle. This shrub is found scattered about the park of la Sierra de la Marina and its white flowers carry a message of love.

detail of monastery with almond trees



A dear friend, Sendrine Fabie Constant, left this comment on my facebook page in reference to a recent painting I had  posted .

“Beautiful Melodie said you are finding back your colors! I let you interpret it. Best”

Melodie is her daughter, and is very talented, creative and full of life and energy (as is her mother), so these words really mean a lot to me.

Thank you very much, Melodie!  You are right, I did lose them (my colors) for awhile, as we will do from time to time along  the way in life’s journey, but then we “find them back” as you so poetically phrased it!


Robert (Bob) Froh



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