Meritxell is currently one of the most representative examples of late-20th century Andorran architecture. Its architectural volumes are now part of our cultural landscape. Besides the image of Our Lady presiding over the nave – a 3D printed reproduction – the Sanctuary houses seven sculptures by Sergi Mas, corresponding to the patron saints of the parochial churches, thereby certifying Meritxell as the national sanctuary.
Following the approval of the Constitution in 1993, the meeting held by the Consell General (the Andorran Parliament) every September 8th (the festivity of the found images of the Virgin Mary) in the Sanctuary was abolished. This meant a separation of political and secular powers, thereby restoring the social and religious meaning of this festivity.
Furthermore, the Sanctuary was declared a basilica minor in July 2014 by the Pope Francis through a rescript for the Congregation for Divine Worship. This concession was a response to a petition made months earlier by the bishopric of Urgell, with the approval of Andorran authorities, to commemorate the centennial of the pontifical declaration of Our Lady of Meritxell as the main patron saint of Andorra by Saint Pius X. The solemn celebration of this act took place during the festivities of Our Lady of Meritxell held on September 8th 2014.
The title of basilica minor is a distinction granted by the Pope to the most important churches, with a significant history, culture, liturgical and pastoral life. The diocese of Urgell now has three basilica minors: the Sanctuary of Meritxell, the cathedral of Santa Maria de la Seu d’Urgell and the basilica of la Mare de Déu de Valldeflors in Tremp. Following the declaration, the Ambon was changed for a fixed stone one.
The Sanctuary of Meritxell also became part of the Marian Route on the same year as its distinction as a basilica minor.
El 13 de maig de 2014, just cent anys després de la declaració pontifícia de la Verge de Meritxell com a patrona de les Valls d'Andorra, el Santuari va ser declarat basílica menor. A la imatge, les autoritats andorranes reben les autoritats eclesiàstiques el dia del nomenament.
The National Archives of Andorra preserve the Josep Moles collection, a small collection of 135 images of the construction of the new Sanctuary of Meritxell, which can be consulted online. A photography amateur, Moles documented the entire construction, as his company was in charge of the electric work. The scope of the pictures goes from 1974 to the inauguration of the temple in 1976.
The new Sanctuary also houses the Bíblies del món (“Bibles of the World”) exhibition, inaugurated in September 2016. This permanent exhibition features an ever-growing collection made of more than 1.600 copies in over 1.400 different languages, dialects and supports.