Mare de Déu de Núria

Mare de Déu de NúriaEsglésia de la Mare de Déu de Núria
Built: 1886-1897
Founded: 1885
Function: Parish church; former monastic chapel
Address: Bon Pastor 7

This very pretty church is dedicated to Our Lady of Núria, and visitors to Barcelona will become accustomed to seeing and hearing the name Núria almost as frequently as they do “Montserrat” or “Mercedes”, other Catalan titles of the Blessed Mother as honored at the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat or at the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy in Barcelona. Núria is a valley located in the Catalan Pyrenees, where legend says that St. Giles first established a shrine to the Virgin Mary in around 700 A.D. Her shrine in Núria still houses the Romanesque sculpture of the Madonna and Child which has been honored there for nearly 1000 years, and so understandably the name Núria for girls is particularly popular among families with connections to this region of Catalonia.

The convent chapel was built for the nuns of an order known as Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, more commonly known as the Good Shepherd Sisters, founded in the 19th century by St. Mary Eufrasia. This was a reform of the Order of Our Lady of Charity founded by St. Jean Eudes in the 17th century, which was somewhat disorganized in having no central authority in the form of a mother house at the time, in order to administer the members of the order. The sisters were particularly concerned with care for the poor, especially women and young people who might be easily exploited by society.

In 1885 the convent was given episcopal permission to begin their foundation at a prime location in the Eixample, which at the time was the brand-new, expanding, district of the city of Barcelona. Construction of the Gothic Revival chapel and the convent began the following year, and due to various delays continued until 1897. The nuns remained in residence until the Civil War when, as happened all over Barcelona, they were forced to flee and the church was sacked by the Leftists.

After returning to their convent once Barcelona was taken by the Franquist forces in 1938, the nuns decided to find a new home elsewhere in the city. The Archdiocese then purchased the building and created a new parish dedicated to Our Lady of Núria to take over the site. Unfortunately, despite all of the work done to bring the chapel back to life after the Civil War, the almost-universal adoption of bad taste as a result of Vatican II caused much of the old decoration to be torn out, leaving an interior that seems somewhat at odds with the exterior, as shown in the photos below. My understanding from the parish website is that they are trying to address some of these issues as they are able.

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