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.