La Pompeia

La PompeiaEsglésia-Monestir de la Mare de Déu del Roser de Pompeia
Built: 1905-1910
Founded: 1888
Function: Parish church; chapel of religious community
Address: Diagonal 450

The Capuchin Order, a reformed order of Franciscans, has had a presence in Barcelona for many centuries, as exemplified in having one section of the Ramblas named for a friary of theirs which once stood alongside the old city walls and which was torn down in the early 19th century. The particular church and the monastery featured here however, are dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii, a title normally associated with the Dominicans, after devotion to the Virgin Mary under this title became popular among Barcelona’s bourgeois chattering classes. Situated close to the intersection of the Passeig de Gracia and the Diagonal, the two most prestigious commercial streets in the Eixample, Barcelona’s 19th century urban grid expansion, it was built by architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia, a favorite of the Barcelona Archdiocese during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although the Capuchins had arrived at their new home from elsewhere in the city by 1888, the first stone of the present church was laid on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1905. It suffered some damage at this period due to the “Tragic Week”, in which many of Barcelona’s convents and monasteries were torched by angry Leftists. However the structure was far more severely damaged by Lefists during the Civil War, ruining most of the extravagant interior decoration. The only reason it was not completely demolished was that part of the complex was used by the Red Cross to provide blood transfusions on both sides.

Today the complex is still home to the Capuchin friars, as well as serving as the seat of the Capuchins for Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

4 thoughts on “La Pompeia

  1. Actually there are quite a number of them, particularly in the part of the city laid out in the 19th century and built up between about 1860-1910. Sant Francesc de Sales, which I have also written about, is usually considered the best of them. La Pompeia is a great building from this period; I've been to mass here several times.There are (roughly) about 180 major parishes in Barcelona. This does not include chapels, monasteries/convents, etc., so give me time!

  2. I visited the church whilst staying in Barcelona recently. I was motivated to attend mass after my father fell into a coma on a cruise. He remains in ICU in Balmes. I found the church a wonderful sanctuary from the busy streets and the vaulted space truly calming. I went to the church each day and was lulled into long periods of contemplation. I hope that I can find such a space back home in Australia.

    • Your poor father! I’m sure my readers and I will be keeping him in our prayers.
      It is a beautiful church, though as is often the case with churches damaged during the Civil War, not quite what it was. Still, as you say, it is a haven of tranquility amid the bustle of shops and businesses and traffic in this very busy part of town.

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