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Diocese of Barcelona (Barcino)

Suffragan of the Archdiocese of Tarragona

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Barcelona (BARCINO), Diocese of, one of the suffragans of the Archdiocese of Tarragona. The city of this name is the capital of Catalonia and of the province of Barcelona. It is situated on the coast of northeastern Spain, and is familiarly known as the “Queen of the Mediterranean”.

History.—Barcelona is one of the most ancient cities of Spain, and the most important after the capital. Founded by Hamilcar in the ancient region of Laletana, it was in the possession of the Carthaginians until they were driven out of Spain, when it passed under the power of the Romans, who favored it in many ways. Julius Cesar bestowed on it the name of Julia Augusta Faventia in recognition of the support given him in his struggle with Pompey; later he made it a Roman colony and gave it the jus Latii, which conferred on the inhabitants, although still belonging to Hispania Tarraconensis, the full privileges of Roman citizenship. The city remained unimportant until Ataulf, King of the Visigoths, chose it for his residence (415). Later it passed successively into the hands of the Arabs (713) and the Franks (801). Finally, Wilfrid the Hairy declared his independence and gave the Spanish March, or the Marca Hispanica, as the Franks had called it, the name of the County of Barcelona. It remained under the independent government of its own counts until the marriage of Petronilla, daughter of Ramiro the Monk, with the Count of Barcelona (1137) united Aragon and Catalonia. After 1164, when Petronilla resigned in favor of her son Alfonso, the two states formed but one kingdom.

Barcelona, being situated on the shores of the Mediterranean and on the military road between Spain and France, was comparatively easy of access, and the Gospel was preached there by the immediate disciples of the Apostles. The See of Barcelona, unlike most very ancient sees, whose origins are obscure, has preserved catalogues of its bishops from Apostolic times, and although all the names given cannot be admitted as authentic, the greater number are handed down in all the catalogues. In the twelfth century the diocese was restored by Ramon Berengar, Count of Barcelona, since which time the succession of bishops has been uninterrupted.

In the long line of bishops we find many illustrious names. St. Severus, a native of the city, was martyred by Dacianus in the reign of Diocletian. St. Pacianus (360-390) is famous for the clearness and spirituality of his doctrinal writings; in chapter cvi of his “De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis”, St. Jerome praises the chaste life of Pacianus, his eloquence, and his writings on baptism and penance, also those against heretics, particularly the Novatians. St. Oligarius, noted for the great purity of his life, was the first metropolitan of this province. Bishop Urquinaona was revered for his great charity; one of the handsomest plazas of Barcelona is still called by his name. Among the saints of this diocese are: the famous virgin, St. Eulalia, a martyr of the third century, whose relics are preserved in a rich shrine in the crypt of the cathedral; Sts. Juliana and Sempronia, virgins and martyrs; the African saints, Cucuphas and Felix, martyred in the city of Barcelona; St. Raymund of Pennafort, founder of the Order of Mercy for the Redemption of Captives, confessor of Gregory IX (1227-41), and compiler of the famous “Decretals”, in which he collected the scattered decrees of popes and councils.

Councils of Barcelona.—Many councils and assemblies of Spanish bishops were held in Barcelona, two provincial councils in the Visigothic period. The first (c. 540), at which the metropolitan and six bishops assisted, promulgated ten canons, ordaining that the Miserere should be said before the Canticle; that in the Vespers and Matins the benediction should be given to the people; that clerics should not wear the hair long or shave their beards; that penitents should wear the hair short, put on a religious garb, and devote their time to prayer; that the “beatific benediction” should be given to the sick so that they could receive Holy Communion, and that the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon (451) with regard to monks should be observed. At the Second Provincial Council (c. 599), attended by the metropolitan and twelve bishops, four canons were promulgated, the first and second prohibiting any fee for Holy orders and for the chrism used for Confirmation; the third and fourth commanding the observation of the canons referring to those awaiting Holy orders, and excommunicating those who, after having made a vow of chastity and changed their secular dress for the religious garb, should contract a carnal marriage, even if a woman had been forced by violence, unless she immediately separated from the one who had violated her; a similar excommunication was also pronounced on those who married after they had received the “blessing of penance” (benedictio paenitentice), i.e. penitents who had taken an additional vow of continency. Other councils were also held there: that of 1125, presided over by St. Olegarius, the Metropolitan and Bishop of Barcelona; that of 1339 to decide in the matter of the subsidies asked from the clergy; that of 1377, a quasi-plenary council; that of 1387, on the occasion of the Western Schism, which proclaimed legitimate the election of Clement VII; those of 1417, 1517, and 1564 which are of no special importance. In 1904 the Congreso Hispano-Americano de las Congregaciones Marianas was held at Barcelona and was attended by thousands of persons for the purpose of making uniform laws for this congregation and that of the Luises.

Monuments.—Among the many monuments of the city, the most important is the cathedral, built in the early days of the Church in honor of the Holy Cross. It was rebuilt by order of Berengar I, the Old, Count of Barcelona, and his wife, Dona Almodis, and consecrated in 1058. In the thirteenth century it was enlarged, and was finally completed in 1338. It is Gothic in style, one of its most notable features being the “door of the Inquisition“, a beautiful piece of work composed of small columns and pointed arches on a diminishing scale, which conceals the jasper steps that lead to the sanctuary. The facade La Piedad, composed of graceful pointed arches, is one of the purest examples of Spanish Gothic. The church of St. Severus unites in its facade all the architectural charms of the fifteenth century in which it was built; its main tabernacle is noted for the rich carving of its pointed arches; its chapel of St. Eulalia is exceedingly delicate and beautiful. The church of Santa Ana has two pictures by Juncosa. The ancient church of Santa Marla del Mar is also a beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture. Santa Maria del Pino has the most spacious and lofty nave of all the Gothic churches in Barcelona. The church of Sts. Justo and Pastor was the first dedicated to the worship of the true God in Barcelona. Judging from its present appearance, the unfinished Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, built from the alms of the faithful, will be the finest ecclesiastical edifice in Barcelona. The famous sanctuary of Monserrat is outside the city. Apart from its antiquity and religious interest, it is remarkable for its wealth of precious stones, and for the beautiful chapels representing the mysteries of the Rosary; all these are modern and are an evidence of the piety of the faithful. The Diocese of Barcelona also possesses archives of great value in which many precious documents, saved from the Almohad conquest under Almanzor (1184-98), are preserved, as well as the priceless books called Exem plaria, wherein are chronicled ecclesiastical functions, oaths of kings, and other notable events, which make them the best source of information for the history of Catalonia.

Charity and Education.—It would be difficult to find in Spain another city where Christian charity is manifested in more ways than in Barcelona. Besides many general and private hospitals in the city, there exist a multitude of asylums for all classes of persons maintained by religious congregations and pious associations. Notable among them is the girls’ orphan asylum of San Jose de la Montana. The asylum and maternity home (casa de lactancia) of Bressol, for the children of laborers, takes care annually of 1,200 healthy and 2,300 sick children. The asylum of La Sagrada Familia cares for about 300 children of working mothers. The asylum of La Madre de Dios del Carmen of Hostafranchs, besides sheltering about 600 children and old persons, has a pious association especially for arranging marriages between persons who have been living together illegally, and legitimizing the children; in one year it procured 120 such marriages. The asylum of St. Raphael is for scrofulous children, and the asylum Del Parque relieves annually 94,234 poor, and provides sleeping accommodations for 20,000 poor annually. The house of the Good Shepherd shelters about 300 young women rescued from houses of ill fame. The asylum of the Visitation assists young women who are in want, and in the nineteen years of its existence has preserved the purity and virtue of more than 3,000 young women. There are between forty and fifty other institutions for charitable purposes, among them the Duran asylum for incorrigible boys. Two have for their object the distribution of food and the serving of meals to working-men; one distributed 117,125 free rations in one year, and the other fed about 300 working-men daily. The Montes Pios of Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza, of Barcelona, of Santa Madrona, and of Nuestra Senora de Monserrat, are societies for the aid of female domestics and working-men. An association of fathers of families has in one year prevented the publication of 45,000 obscene books and photographs.

In addition to the diocesan seminary, there are Christian Doctrine classes attended by 6,000 children, and Sunday Schools, supervised by 161 young ladies, where over 2,000 women receive instruction, and are thus prevented from attending public dance-halls. Connected with each of the asylums before mentioned is one or more schools; the religious orders conduct free schools attended by 12,000 boys and girls. There are 8 colleges, under the Jesuits, the Piarists, and other religious orders.

A number of Catholic periodicals are published in the diocese: the “Boletin Eclesiastico de la Diocesis”, the “Revista Popular”, founded and directed by Dr. Sarda y Salvany, author of the famous book “Liberalismo es Pecado”, which has been translated into many languages; the “Comentarius Scholaris”, published by the diocesan seminary students; “Anales del cult() a San Jose”; the “Mensajero del Nino Jesus de Praga”; “Anales de Nuestra Senora del Sagrado Corazon”; “La Montana de San Jose”, official organ of the association; “El Boletin Salesian”; “Las Misiones Catolicas”; “La Hormiga de Oro”; “La Revista Social”; and “Los Estudios Franciscans”. “El Correo Catalan” is the only strictly Catholic newspaper. It has the blessing of the sovereign pontiff, and counts many of the clergy among its contributors.

Statistics.—There are 231 parishes, 13 archipresbyterates, 1,180 secular priests, 360 regular clergy, and 89 religious communities. In 1906 the population, nearly all Catholic, was 1,054,531.


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