Santa María de Gràcia

FacadnaEsglésia de Santa María de Jesús de Gràcia
Built: 1930-1939
Founded: 1427
Function: Parish church
Address: Gràcia 3-5

This parish church in the neighborhood of Gràcia may have a 20th century building, but its origins lie in the Middle Ages. In 1427 King Alfonso IV laid the cornerstone for the Monastery of the (awkwardly translated) St. Mary of Jesus of Grace (“Gràcia”). This was the home of a community of Observant Franciscans, which stood in what is now the Eixample district; no trace of the original building now remains.

The complex was destroyed in 1714 during the Wars of the Spanish Succession. Although attempts to re-build were made, in 1817 the Friars ultimately decided to move northward to what is now called Gràcia. In fact, the neighborhood took its name from the title of the Monastery.

The first church on the site of the present parish was built between 1817 and the early 1820’s, but was burned by Leftists in 1825 and had to be rebuilt. In 1835, during the Spanish version of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Franciscans were forced out, and the church became community property. At the time, there was no parish church in Gràcia, so once things had calmed down and order was restored, the Archdiocese made this the first parish for the rapidly growing neighborhood.

The parish continued to grow, and by the late 19th century the old monastic church was far too small to meet the needs of the parishioners. The building was expanded between 1870-1873, but the population continued to mushroom until the parish was bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, it took decades for the Archdiocese to grant permission for the old building to be replaced.

In 1935, after demolition and the laying of the cornerstone by the Archbishop, work finally began on the new church, designed by architect Josep Goday i Casals. This was interrupted during the Civil War when the Leftists – no surprise – sacked and burned the building. Work resumed after the war in 1939, with the parishioners being granted the use of a nearby convent church during construction, and the new building was formally dedicated in 1944. In addition to parish functions, the church also serves as a home base for a local chapter of the Neocatechumenal Way.

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