The Monastery-Hospital of St. Anthony Abbott was founded in 1430 as a home for the Order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony, more commonly referred to in Catalonia as the “els Antonians”, who were canons regular of the Augustinians. Founded in Arles in 1095, the order spread throughout Europe to provide aid to pilgrims and care for the sick, particularly those suffering from leprosy. The Antonians arrived in Barcelona in the 15th century and built a large church, monastery, and hospital named for their patron saint.
After many years of declining numbers, in 1791 the Antonians were technically extinguished in Spain via a Papal Bull issued by Pius VI. Their hospitals were to be turned over to the local municipalities, and the few remaining Antonians were absorbed into other religious communities. However the Antonians in Barcelona managed to hang on until 1803, when the housing of lepers within city limits was banned by the government of Joseph Bonaparte.
The building was turned over to the Piarist brothers in 1806, who continued to use the hospital portion of the structure as a school. In 1906, during a Leftist uprising, the hospital, monastery, and church were damaged by fire. What the Leftists did not finish in 1906 they completed during the Civil War in 1936, when the rest of what remained was virtually entirely destroyed, and had to be torn down.
The Piarists came back after the war, and moved into a new monastery rebuilt on the ruins of the old. The old church was too far gone to save, but the original porch of the monastic church was retained, and used as the entrance for the commercial establishment which was built upon its ruins. Today its three grand Gothic arches, featuring sculptures of King Alfonso VI and his Queen Maria, rulers of Catalonia at the time the church was built, and part of the upper story are all that remains of what was once a very grand Gothic building.