The present Church of St. Isabel of Aragon (also known as St. Isabel of Portugal) and St. Joachim is actually a blending of two religious foundations. St. Joachim, father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was chosen as the patron of the sole monastic church built in Barcelona for the friars known as the Minims, a small but still-extant religious order founded by St. Francis de Paola in the 15th century. The friars arrived in Barcelona and obtained permission from the Archdiocese to found their monastery in 1901 in Horta-Guinardó, a working-class neighborhood in NE Barcelona which was already popularly devoted to St. Joachim. This made him the right choice for the patron of the Minims’ new home when the first rudimentary chapel opened to the public in 1902.
Work began on the present church in 1908, but construction was interrupted in 1909 when it was sacked and partially destroyed by the Leftists during one of their frequent anti-Catholic uprisings. The friars were able to return the following year, and had to start all over again; the church as it stands today was dedicated in 1917. During the Civil War in 1936 however, as happened all over the city, the church was again sacked by the Leftists and burnt, and three of the friars were murdered.
After the Civil War, as the Minims returned and began to re-build their friary, Barcelona experienced a population boom as thousands of immigrants from other parts of Spain arrived looking for work in the city’s port, factories, and manufacturing plants. Throughout the 1940’s, many new parishes were established throughout the city to deal with this influx of new parishioners. One such was that founded in 1946 dedicated to Isabel of Aragon, Queen of Portugal.
The parish originally had no fixed home, and the Minims Fathers allowed the parish the use of their church until a suitable location could be found. By 1949 the parish obtained a building for temporary use as a church not far away, until a proper building could be constructed. As matters turned out, this was never to be. In 1971 the parish moved to a new location on the lower floor of a building nearby, and remained there until 1991 when it was moved back to St. Joachim’s and the parish given into the care of the Minims.