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A 12th century monastery in the interior of Catalonia has been daubed with Spanish nationalist messages by vandals, on the eve of an annual festival to be celebrated there.

The Cistercian Order monastery of Santa Maria de les Franqueses, located near the town of Balaguer, was attacked overnight on Saturday. Messages in support of dictator Francisco Franco and the unity of Spain were among those spray-painted on the walls of the historic monastery, founded in 1186.  

"Today, the Franqueses monastery in Balaguer (dating from 1186) looked like this. You'd have to pretty stupid and a fascist SH*T to do this..." - Pol Molina

"Viva Franco", "Ridiculous separatists", "Nazis" and "Political prisoners should hang" were some of the sprayed messages, along with a Spanish flag on the arch of the main entrance.

"I have no words to express how angry this makes me. Moreover, today is the day of the Aplec de les Franqueses festival celebrated every year" - Pol Molina​

Catalan president Quim Torra described the attack as "repugnant", saying it was the action of "intolerant, fascist people" and was "against everybody's heritage and culture." 

This Sunday was the date of an annual festival centred on the monastery, the Aplec de les Franqueses, with community events including a shared meal, a Sunday mass, and a circus performance. Despite the vandalism, the events went ahead.     

"And the response: culture, culture and more culture.— Arnau Torrente" 

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