|Historia de la Diócesis de Barcelona del s. IV al s. XXI|
Dr. Josep Maria Martí Bonet
Christianity took hold very early in this territory, coinciding with the Romanization process. We have signs of Christian life since III century. One can state the evangelizing presence of Sant Cugat, who was a martyr during the prosecution of Diocletian (304), and the local tradition provides news about other martyrs, such as Saint Eulàlia or Saint Medir, Saints Juliana and Semproniana and the bishop Saint Sever, are historically more doubtful. The first known and documented bishop of the old Barcino is Pretextat that took part of the Council of Sardica, in 343. Some years later, the celebrated Pacià (360-390), illustrious writer and saint, occupied this see. At the end of IV century was bishop Lampi (393-400), who conferred the sacerdotal ordination to Pauli de Nola. It is from this period the basilica dedicated to the Saint Cross, with baptistery exempted, located archeologically in the underground of today’s cathedral. From the V century on, appeared a confusing period , in general, and especially for the Hispanic Catholic Church, due to the irruption of the Goths and Visigoths, who left the Arian’s heresy. Until 589 it seems that coexisted two Episcopal authorities in the same city of Barcelona: the one of the Catholic bishop and the one of the Arian. During the Visigoth dominium, Barcelona was one of the fourteen dioceses of the ecclesiastic province of the Tarraconense and there took place two general councils of all Hispania in 540 and 599. In 450, the bishopric of Ègara (Terrasa) was created, dismembered from the territory of Barcelona and consisting of the pre coastal zone from the Pontons to the Montseny. This bishopric subsisted until the Arabic invasion.
The effects of the Saracen invasion at the Tarraconense are, in a great part, unknown even now. In general terms, is known that many conditions that permitted the continuation of the Christian worship were agreed, like the tax which had to pay the great part of the population that didn’t convert to the Islam.
Despite all, a great part of the population, and between them some ecclesiastic leaders, as the bishop of Barcelona, Laülf and the bishop of Ègara (whose name is unknown), run away to more secure places, as the Pyrenees, the Montseny or Sant Llorenç del Munt. However, the inhabitants of Girona, Barcelona and Terrassa (Ègara), despite having no bishop, lived very well organized in a way that they had enough freedom to offer their cities to the king Charlemagne when he started the campaign of conquest in the south of the Pyrenees.
IX and X centuries
• The Carolingians never saw with good eye the old Visigoth Episcopal stratum, that never was returned to their own see; just the contrary, they imposed to the episcopate clergymen totally faithful to the empire, that had come not from Hispania, from the kingdom of the francs. So, in Barcelona, the first bishop after one hundred and fifty years of silence is someone called Joan (850), and a few time later Ataülf (857-861); the third, Frodoí (861-890), was sent to Barcelona by Carles el Calb to extirpate the rests of the Roman-Visigoth structures. The territory of Ègara’s bishopric was integrated again in the one of Barcelona, in the X century. Under the Carolingians, the bishopric of Barcelona was subjugated to the archbishopric of Narbonne, due to the fact that Tarragona was under Saracen hands. The subjection wasn’t liked by the bishops of the X century, after Frodoí, and that made to try to restore the old province Tarraconense, but they always had the opposition of Rome, the see in Narbonne and the Carolingian kings. During the period between IX and X centuries, the Saracen attacks were disastrous for the Barcelonan Church. It is need to point out the one in 852 and especially the one of Al-Mansur (985) that caused a lamentable reprocess in the territorial processes of the bishopric, ultra the devastation of temples, archives and libraries. Still today it can be verified the flagellation of that commander in archaeological zones and in the documents of our archives, like the parchment of 987 from the Diocesan Archive of Barcelona, sacramental testament of Muç, son of Fruià, where it is explained that, on the 6th july 985, Barelona was sacked and burned and its inhabitants dead or captive, like the author of the testament. The cathedral of Barcelona that was still the old basilica of the paleochristian period was destroyed.
• From the XI Century on, the Church of Barcelona, structured under the Carolingian power, was organized again at the shadow of the emergent civil powers. The bishops from Teoderic to Folc (904-1099) are characterized for their total submission to the Barcelonan viscounty house: the viscounts disposed of the mitre and considerate the bishopric as an own property, and, for this, they acted ignoring it and making it something to sell or inherit. The Church of Barcelona with its parishes suffered the lay investments and even the simony. The bishops, interested in the acquisition of territory to extend their jurisdiction, stood out more as battlers beside the count than as shepherds. We need to point out two singular facts of this period: the donation by Mugahid of the Episcopal jurisdiction of the zones of Denia, Alicante and Mallorca to the bishop of Barcelona, Guislabert (1050) and the construction of the Romanic cathedral of Barcelona by Ramon Berenguer I and Almodis, consecrated by Guifre (1058), archbishop of Narbonne, assisted by Guislabert of Barcelona.
• In the XII century took place the organization of the bishopric of Barcelona in parishes. With Saint Oleguer who was head of the canons of Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besòs, and abbot of Sant Ruf d’Avignon. This great prelate founder of the collegiate church of Santa Maria de Terassa before being bishop of Barcelona (1114-1137), and in him it was started the period of the application of the Gregorian reform: where the lay investing wasn’t admitted. Oleguer is the most eminent bishop of the Medium Age, with a great influence over the Latin Church. Participates in many European councils and was councillor of Ramon Berenguer III in his ultrapyrenees politics, started with the wedding of the count with Dolça of Provença. With him it is completed the hoped recuperation of the Tarragona’s metropolitan see, of whom Barcelona depended nominally since 1091, and of whom he was named archbishop (1118), despite he never left the mitre of Barcelona. In the same period, between XI and XII centuries, the monasteries of Sant Cugat del Vallès and Santes Creus, obtained great importance and reached their greatest splendour, benefiting the diocese in the religious and cultural fields. In the XIII century, Sant Cugat had the patronage of 64 Barcelonan parishes.
• During the XIII century started the presence and influence of the mendicant orders, which settled in many towns as Barcelona, Mataró, Vilafranca del Penedès and others. At the entering of the Franciscans and Dominicans at the diocese, the foundation of the ‘mercedari’ order of Sant Pere Nolasc, entered too, in 1218, with the help of the bishop Berenguer de Palou (1212-1241) and of the king Jaume I. The collaboration of this bishop in the conquest of the Mallorca Island (1229) meant to the mitre of Barcelona the obtaining of the feudal dominium over wide zones in Mallorca, such as Andratx and other places, dominium that remains until XIX century, as the large group of documents of the Diocesan Archive of Barcelona demonstrates. In 1233, Jaume I yield to the strong pressures of the Pope and implanted, with the help of Saint Raimon de Penyafort, the pontifical inquisition in Barcelona to fight the Cathars.
• In the history of de diocese of Barcelona stands out the pontificate of Ponç de Gualba (1303-1334) to whom is debt the continuation of the construction of the gothic cathedral of Barcelona, started in 1298 by the Benedictine bishop Bernat de Pelegrí and by the king Jaume II, and among all the bureaucratic organization of the diocese, with the imposition of the redaction of documental registers of the many activities that took place by the Episcopal curia: parish visits, graces (Gratiarum), commons (Communium) and others. Some of the volumes that were started during his pontificate, still preserved in the Diocesan Archive of Barcelona, are the oldest of Europe in its category and show the influence of the Pope, residing in Avignon, John XXII (1316-1334), and of his curia, reflected in the intricate and ferrous legislation about the benefits, very numerous in the diocese of Barcelona. In this period existed about seven thousand clergyman in the diocesan demarcation; especially we need to point out the 250 of the cathedral.
• The schism of occident influenced the life in the diocese too. The bishops of Barcelona (Andreu Bertran and Francesc Climent Sapera) pay, during a long period of time, obedience to the popes of Avignon. To return them, Benedict XIII (Pere de Luna), in his way to Peñíscola, gave lots of privileges to the cathedral of Barcelona and to its capitol. But finally, Francesc Climent changed his obedience in favour of the pope Martin V that named him patriarch. A great impulse in the work of the cathedral of Barcelona is due to this bishop.
• With Joan Soler (1446-1463) as bishop started an influence of the popes of Valencia of the house of Borja, Calixt III and Alexandre VI, and the bad habit of the bishops of residing very few time at the Episcopal see. Soler was one of the most eminent theologians of the popes Nicolau V and Calixt III. At his death, the diocese was in a confused state for about 10 years, due to the war against the king Joan II and the scarce relationships with the pope. His successor, Joan Ximenis, never could take possession of the charge, due to the opposition of the canons, who had elected Miquel de Torrelles, and he was buried in the monastery of Poblet (27-VII-1472). The influence of the Borja was shown again with the naming of one of their familiars, Roderic de Borja, nephew of the pope Calixt III and uncle of the pope Alexandre VI (1467-1472), but he out of the diocese and used to live in Rome; the care of the diocese was charged to the capitol, concretely to the capitulary vicars Sors and Traveret, and the canons reach great power and prestige. During the pontificate of Gonzalo Fernàndez de Heredia (1478-1490) the Spanish inquisition was introduced in the diocese (1483). The influence of the Borja was known again with the naming of cousin of them that would be pope, Alexandre VI: Pere García (1490-1505), famous at the pontifical court for his arguments against the Neo-Platonist thesis of Pico della Mirandola. Once in Barcelona, tried to reform the diocese, but he had great difficulties due to a sector of strong opposition, and it is known that in the 26 June 1500, a hundred people invaded the Episcopal palace and the bishop was need of the help of the soldiers. In this episode, a person died.
• The absentee politics of most of the Barcelonan bishops of the XV century, who used to live in the pontifical or royal courts (Gonzalo Fernández de Heredia, Pere García), caused the rise of power and prestige of the cathedral capitol that was in charge of the diocese’. When Pere García died (1505), the canons objected the designation of the new bishop, Enric de Cardona, made by the pope, and proposed their own candidate, the archdeacon Lluís Desplà. In 1521, it seems that Joan de Cardona was elected against the new effective bishop, the cardinal Guillem Ramon de Vic. When he died a new conflict appeared between the emperor Carles, who had designed Lluís de Cardona, and the pope, in favour of Cardinal Silvio Passarino. But the diocese was governed by the archbishop of Salònica, Joan Miralles, who was ratified in this see by the pope, when Passarino died in 1529.
• It was not until the election of the bishop Jaume Caçador (1546-1561) that the problem of the absenteeism of the bishops disappeared in the diocese of Barcelona. With this prelate started the diocesan reform according to the spirit of the council in Trento, where the reformed religious orders had an important intervention and stand out the presence of the Jesuits of the Col·legi de Betlem. In 1598 the bishop Dimas Lloris inaugurates the ‘tridentí’ seminar at the old convent of Montalegre.
• During the XVII Century, the bishops of Barcelona were associated to the charges of civil politics, often for the influence of the monarchs. Two bishops of Barcelona were the deputies of Catalonia: Joan Sentís (1622-1626) and García Gil Manrique (1640). He was first of a group of castellan bishops, who governed the diocese between 1633 and 1691, just interrupted by the naming of Ramon de Sentmenat (1655-1663). From 1643 on, the opposition between the French authorities and the Catalan clergy became strong and the general vicar, Galceran de Sentmenat, was expulsed together with other Barcelonan clergymen. At the end of the Succession War, the bishop Benet de Sala had to abandon Barcelona and died at the exile, at the court of the archduchy Carles. But he was buried in the Church of Saint Paul in Rome ‘extra mura’.
• In 1715, three hundred ecclesiasts where expulsed for their attitude against Felip V. A period of ‘regalisme’ was opened and comported an important reprocess to the pastoral freedom of the diocese. One of the evidences more notables of the situation was the expulsion of the Jesuits of Spain, in 1767. On the other hand, until 1850, only three of the bishops of Barcelona were Catalan speakers: Pau de Sitjar, Ascensi Sales and Josep Climent, fact that influenced in great measure in the religious and cultural movement of the Barcelonan Church.
• Josep Climent (1766-1775) ordered the movement of the seminar ‘tridentí’ to the old Col·legi de Betlem, which was unoccupied since the expulsion of the Jesuits. The institution received then the name of Col·legi Episcopal de Nostra Senyora de Montalegre and soon became the principal centre of superior education in Barcelona. He also created the Biblioteca Episcopal (1772), with the material of the seminar and where was integrated the material of the Col·legi de Betlem, founded free primary schools and accepted Catalan as a pastoral language. The arbitrariness in the naming of the diocesan charges was constant during all the century. The diocesan synods where suspended and one had, from the government, an absolute control over the Episcopal activities, controlling the naming of the Episcopal vicars and reducing at the maximum the Episcopal jurisdiction and its prestige. That was the situation when the Napoleonic troops entered Spain.
• The Napoleonic invasion meant to the diocese a campaign of persecution against the Church. Since 1808 to 1814 the see of Barcelona had no bishop. Many convents were closed and the religious orders were deleted, and there were many murders of religious people and priests. The persecution also comported the loss of a great part of the cultural patrimony of the diocesan Church, with the burning of churches, parochial archives and art works. The affection of the Church to the Carlin cause during the following period compromised its pastoral action although in the Trienni Liberal there was more a liberal tendency between the Barcelonan clergy. The absolutist reaction in 1823 persecuted hardly the liberal clergy with the governor of the mitre, Pere Josep Avellà. In 1835, the decree of the no amortization of the goods of the religious orders provoked the secularization of many convents and monasteries, followed by the burning of most of them. After that, the bishop Pedro Martínez de Sanmartín established a new parochial division of the city of Barcelona, in a way that most of the old churches were reconverted in parishes. The diocese had new restructuration in the years 1867, 1924, 1931 and 1948. The conflict between liberals and absolutists followed under the pontificate of Josep Domènec Costa and Borràs (1848-1857), who was against the liberals and who was exiled.
• Between 1878 and 1908, the reactionary tendency of the Barcelonan bishops experimented some reprocess, especially in the governments of Urquinaona, Català, Morgades and Casañas, and, at the same time, a recatalanization process of the Church was restarted. However, they did not get to stop the new anticlerical outbreak that was manifested in the burning of convents in July 1909, fact known as the Setmana Tràgica.
• A big sector of the Catalan Church followed working for the pastoral and cultural renovation. The I Congrés litúrgic in Montserrat (1915), the expansion of the work of Foment de Pietat Catalana and the beginning of the modern biblical versions in Catalan were promoted. There was an opposition to the imposition of Spanish in the predication and in the catechism that pretended the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-1930), fact that caused conflicts and persecution of some of the most advanced members of the clergy. The pastoral opening of thought was stopped during the pontificate of the bishop Irurita, named during the dictatorship. The start of the Civil War of 1936-1939 interrupted the diocesan life. Most of the churches and convents were burned and plundered and the were lots of victims, especially in the first two months of the war: the bishop Irurita, 277 priests, 537 religious men and 46 religious women of the diocese, apart from lots of secular people related to the Church. This one, reduced to the clandestine way, was directed by J.M. Torrent, who had been named general vicar by the bishop Irurita once started the revolution. From 1937 on, a period of prosecution less fierce was opened. A Basc Catholic Church was established. The end of the war meant a process of politic and cultural reconversion of the Church. The clandestine organization of the Church that had worked during the war was surrogated by a new hierarchy, imposed by the government of Franco, which since 1941 reached the right of presentation of bishops. The first administrator bishop – no titular- was Monsignor M. Díaz de Gómara. His successor, Gregorio Modrego Casaus, was the great promoter of an important reform in the parochial ordination of Barcelona (1948), based in the recuperation and restoration of the old churches and the construction of more than a hundred new parishes, necessary to receive the growth of the population that the city was experimenting. He also was the principal maker of the XXXV Congrés Eucarístic Internacional, celebrated in Barcelona in 1952. During the decade of the sixties, the diocese knew a new tendency most favourable to the autochthon values, welcome principally by the Montserrat’s abbey, and crystallized in the advanced movements of Acció Catòlica (JOC, JAC, GOAC) and in the Delegació Catalana de l’Escoltisme. It was a period of great intellectual, religious and cultural impulse promoted by the great ecclesiastics as Bonet Muisi, Trens, Alavedra, Eudal Serra, Batlle, Carreras, Anglés, Sanabre… With the elevation to the bishopric of the archbishop Marcelo González Martín appeared politic arguments; however, his actuation towards the ecclesial structure represented a good impulse in the creation of institutions such as the faculty of Theology of Barcelona. Previous conflicts were smoothed with the naming of four Catalan assistant bishops (Josep Campmany, Ramon Daumal, Josep Maria Guix and Ramon Torrella). The celebration of the Vatican Council II gave a spirit of renovation to the Catalan Church and impulse the Barcelonan diocese towards new directives. At the same time, the regime was becoming weak and its ending opened new perspectives to the Church. The naming of the archbishop Narcís Jubany (1973-1990) was a good start for the opening of the Barcelonan Church to the Catalan culture without the politic contradictions of the previous periods. The archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Ricard Maria Carles, who had been bishop of Tortosa, took possession in 1990. In 1992, the archbishop Ricard Maria Carles divided in four Episcopal demarcations the old 14 pastoral zones, governed by five assistant bishops, named all of them during his pontificate: Barcelona city and South Barcelona (Jaume Traserra and Pere Tena), North Barcelona and Maresme (Joan Carrera), Vallés (Carles Soler) and Baix Llobregat, Penedès, Garraf (Joan Enric Vives). In 1995 the Concili Provincial Tarraconense was celebrated, together with all the other Catalan dioceses, and had a notable repercussion in the ecclesial area. In 2004 (15 June) the pope John Paul II dismembered the archbishopric of Barcelona in three dioceses. They are Barcelona, Terrassa, and Sant Feliu del Llobregat. The first metropolitan bishop named bu the same pope John Paul II is Dr. Lluís Martínez Sistach born in Barcelona in 1937.