Chapel of the Virgin of the Helpless

Altarpiece of the Confraternity of the Helpless (19th-20th century)

Ramón Amadeu Grau (1745-1821) Bonaventura Planella (1772-1844) Juli Fossas Martínez (1868-1945)
MiTPi-0171
 

This chapel is the head office of the Royal and Illustrious Confraternity of the Helpless since 1568. An association founded in Barcelona during the 14th century with the objective of gather up and bury the people executed remaining in the scaffold at the mercy of the beasts. Along with the Archconfraternity of the Purest Blood and the Brotherhood of Peace and Charity they were the institutions in charge of this social and charitable function, becoming a main reference in the city. Around the end of the 18th century a fire destroyed the first altarpiece and the 16th statue. Shortly after a new altarpiece was carried out with a new statue of the Virgin made by the famous sculptor Ramón Amadeu i Grau. This Virgin is depicted in action of take two poor kids in under her cape, a habitual representation of the Helpless theme but made here in a realistic and original way. An old tale explains that the sculptor conceived the group when he saw his own wife taking his children in tenderly after told they off for a mischief. The statue is a special typology of sculpture very common in Spain where only the head, hands and feet are sculpted and the rest of the statue is dressed with real clothes, like a mannequin. The Virgin of the Helpless is one of the most famous works of Amadeu. The altar, altarpiece and lamps were rebuilt in 1910 by the architect Juli Fossas, at the expense of the countess of Llívia. The ensemble is complemented with two paintings in the sides of the chapel depicting two scenes of the Old Testament: Resfa burying his two children at the right side and the martyrdom of the seven Maccabean brothers at the left side, both made in 1833 by the painter Bonaventura Planella. On the upper side there was a painting, currently lost, depicting St. Andrew and St. Anthony the Great, the first devotions of this chapel.

© Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, Albert Cortés
 
 

Altarpiece of Our Lady of the Helpless before 1936.

Members of the Brotherhood of the Helpless pincking up an executed body.