Església de Nostra Senyora de Perpetu Socors
Function: Parish church; chapel of religious community
Address: Balmes 98-100
The church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a beautiful 20th century structure, built in a traditional, Baroque basilica style. This type of architecture is not native to Barcelona, and one would more likely expect to see such a church in Rome or Vienna. However it is one example of several types of churches in this rather grand style which were built in the city after the Civil War, typically by wealthier parish communities.
In 1926 Father Ramón Sarabia y Barbero arrived in Barcelona to help strengthen and promote the work of the Redemptorists already working in the city. With his leadership by 1928 the Redemptorist Fathers were able to rent, and later purchase, a building on the Carrer Balmes in the center of the Eixample, the newly expanded downtown grid of Barcelona. It was in this building that the first chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was dedicated.
The Redemptorist center became a home base for the promotion of Catholic social life and evangelization in the city during the leadup to the Spanish Civil War, and served as the chapel for the Cristo Rey (“Christ the King”) society. When the Leftists took over in 1936, the building was sacked and the chapel desecrated. The Redemptorists returned in 1938, but due to the damage inflicted when they were forced out a new building was needed. The result, the work of architect Joaquim Porqueres i Banyeres between 1948 and 1958, with frescoes by Josep Mestres i Cabanes, is a grand, Baroque Revival structure that would look perfectly at home in the Eternal City, and is one of the few exemplars of this type of architecture in Barcelona. Today it is still in the hands of the Redemptorists, and as well as being a parish church serves as a home for the Ukranian Catholic community in Barcelona to worship under the Byzantine Rite.