Despite the lack of existing documentary references and ignorance of the great archaeological record of this sector of the city, the current historiography considered very probable the existence of a fifth century church near the western gate of the Roman city. This church is in correspondence with the other points east of worship known to the wall and have been studied archaeologically. Some references persistently preserved since ancient tradition to speak of consecration in 413 (or 415) in the environment, possibly in a building located on a funeral or martyrdom Roman burial area, which back to the first century AD, and follows one of the minor roads, outside the city walls, where it found archaeological remains in the Plaza de la Villa de Madrid. This confirms the recent discovery undocumented tradition, the foundations of the Gothic church, a memorial pedestal with inscriptions, Roman, reused in the fifth century as a Christian now. This material shortage should be added to two other altars, now missing, were documented in the nineteenth century.
Thus, we must locate the church of Pi as the centerpiece to most likely around which develops a suburban Roman Barcino, which will later be known as the new Villa del Pi. These new villages around the ancient walls of the city, subject to a gradual increase in the population that had been giving since the fifth century AD and culminate in the construction of the medieval wall Jaume eight centuries later.
In the absence of extensive archaeological excavations that provide material information about the background of the current building, we rely on documentary sources and some vestiges constructive to outline their approximate description. The first reliable reference on Santa Maria del Pi corresponds to the year 987, from this and other sacramental wills, we know that the church had at least three altars, which had been arranged in the transept battery as usual in the churches: one central, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and two aisles dedicated to San Clemente and San Pancrazio. It also includes the existence of a profit dedicated to St. John before 1248. Moreover, we can see a Romanesque portal from a series of sculptures, such as capitals, imposts or figurative ornamentation plant, a remarkable quality, which joined the Gothic doorways and can be dated in the middle of the twelfth century.
The Crown of Aragon comes between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, expanding regional economic and around the Mediterranean. Barcelona society, especially the middle class, experiencing a time of great prosperity, thanks in large part to the intense commercial activity of the port. Pujança This is one factor that explains these years most of the wealthy city start to build or remodel their palaces. This is when the main churches of the city undertake a renovation, motivated both by a desire to expand and beautify the temples, which had remained small to accommodate the growing population of their districts, such as the need for more chapels where these classes wanted to establish their individual benefits and chaplaincies. In this construction process , stand out above the others, four Gothic churches of Barcelona, led by the Cathedral, begun in 1298 , and followed by the parishes of Santa Maria del Pi (ca. 1320), Santa Maria sea (1329) and San Justo and San Pastor (1342). It should be noted here that the thrust constructive led Bishop Pontius gualba as it is during his pontificate when these tasks are undertaken on a large scale.
The start of construction of Pi has always been surrounded by uncertainty, in fact the same workers in 1508 are recorded in the Black Book that nobody remembered to sign this date:
“Sien recordants los Obrers sobrevenidors de posar assi desota sis trobara, los dia e any, que fonch edificada la sglesia parroquial de la gloriosa Verge Maria del Pi, com fins assi no sen hage pogut haver vestigi ningu”.
However, it is plausible to believe that the new temple from beginner to arrival Jaume Fabre as the master builder of the cathedral in 1317, was possibly the first foreman of Pi. We know also that 1321 was founded as a benefit to the altar of San Clemente. So we set the start of construction between 1318 and 1320.
It is likely that the new Gothic building was made by replacing the previous part making use of their materials. In 1322, both King James II as Bishop Pontius gualba urging parishioners to pay the contribution they had agreed to work on the new building. Around 1340 the church building was completed halfway, but save a significant work experience from 1348 because of the great plague which ravaged much of Europe. The construction extends throughout the fourteenth century until the last stone was laid in 1391. The memorial slab that is on the inside of the goal of the Hail Mary says that the church was consecrated on 17 June 1453 by Bishop Fray Llorens de Terranova.
During the fifteenth century were completed in different areas around the church: the bell tower, sacristy, the rectory and chapel Chapter. The chapels housed fraternities and guilds who decorate with beautiful altarpieces. It is also the choir of Reverend community spaces and will house the first file in the parish. The figure of the director of Pi, will often linked to a high position in the court. This is the case of the great personalities of time as Alfonso de Tous (buying the Palau de la Generalitat) or Master Philip Mesh.
Pi connects your time more fully with the beginning of the sixteenth century and Renaissance arrived in Catalonia. Can sense its environment, training an elite humanist major figures strongly linked with Italy. Indications are donated by the Rector Gabriel Miró Lignum Crucis reliquary of the year 1498 (the first piece of jewelry Renaissance Catalonia), constituting the second public library in Barcelona testamentary by the clerk of Pi Peter John Matoses, 1508 and the new bill Altarpiece between 1508 and 1525, painted by John of Burgundy and Peter Nunez, two of the best painters of the Renaissance Hispanic. Simultaneously there are two events of great importance to the parish during this century: the arrival of the relic of the Holy Thorn to 1542, which will motivate the construction of the crypt and the post of the head of the church, and the institution of the Royal and Illustrious Arxiconfraria of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the chapel of the Chapter in 1547, since then and until now known as the chapel of Blood. Another highlight is the union, 1561, Pi with the parish of St. Stephen Castilla currently Castro Valley, which had been feudatària the monastery of San Lorenzo del Munt and then went to be one of Santa Maria del Pi.
During the seventeenth century, however, there is a loss of ascending political and cultural, in part motivated by the removal of the court in Madrid. It is the time when most of the convents modern devotio down along the Ramblas, in the province of pastoral Pi, which motivates many lawsuits and even some open confrontation. Brotherhood of Blood commissioned the construction of a sumptuous altar and decorations throughout the chapel, towards 1670, the sculptor John Gra. The 1687 comes as a benefit to the community Josep Oriol Bogunyà reverse one of the most beloved figures in the history of the parish and the City. In part until his death in 1702. This death coincides with a new century and the beginning of one of the worst episodes of warfare the city and the War of Succession Barcelona suffered several sieges until his capitulation on the eleventh of September, 1714.
Pi was his role in these events, contributing in various ways to the defense of the city, making an important social and humanitarian work or inflamed the spirit of the people in arms at the touch of their bells. The terrorist bombing, launched by the Duke of popular major wounds are left, a series of bombs falling on the vault of the presbytery on the night of June 9, 1714, causing it to collapse and destroying Altarpiece and all the trimmings that had. As miraculous fact the Virgin and other images were saved. They also have damage in some side chapel as well as the vast majority of the nave windows, which broke during the siege or the explosion of gunpowder orchards of St. Paul, three years later. At the end of the war, Pi is poor: empty coffers, income and bells hijacked and ruined temple. The recovery will be slow and cumbersome.
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1714 Saint Mary of Pi, a harassed community
Throughout the remainder of the century the most notable reform is the projection of the new altar, designed by Pedro Costa in 1730 and refurbished by Josep Mas i Dordal, 1771, will involve the removal of the choir in the middle of the ship presbytery and the closure of the stairs in front of the crypt. However also undertaken other works, especially the construction of the building file 1764, thus unifying the various documentary of the parish who were, until then scattered. In the second half of the eighteenth century will be baptized and married in the parish of Joaquina Vedruna , future founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity.
Again there were signs of a full recovery in the final years of the century and the beginning of the next: the bill of the new altar guild Reseller in 1798, commissioned the new litter of our Lady the 1800 and the popular baiard Angel Tort built in 1822 are elements denoting its revival riding timid introduction to Barcelona neoclassical ideas. But, most important, no doubt, was the series of events and artistic achievements that took place on the occasion of the celebrations for the beatification of Dr. Josep Oriol 1806, around which the Pine did a great temple beautification campaign, whitewashing and painting the walls of the nave and choir building to accommodate the new large organ. Just this organ, made by Franz Johan Otter Kyburz would mean the introduction of European modern organ builder in Catalonia.
Despite the shock of the Peninsular War and the disintegration of the boundaries of some of the restructured ministry in parishes, convents, the Pi continues as a church reference in Barcelona. 1863 used a general restoration of the temple, according to the tastes of the time. Leading the direction of the works are Francesc de Paula Villar, who decides to replace almost all other elements of the modern era Gothic style, cleaning walls and reopen the crypt front.
It will take a century to Pope Pius X canonized in Rome Josep Oriol, in 1909, thanks largely to push the Cardinal Casañas, director of Pi and great devotee of the figure. The news was celebrated in the city with festive liturgies and practically chained to the burning of churches Tragic Week, where Pi is going to save. In 1925, the parish received the title of minor basilica. It will be the last major celebration before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, an event that left a profound wound around the country and the church marked a before and after.
On 20 June 1936, Uncontrolled anticlerical groups entered several churches in Barcelona with the intention to fire them. One was Santa Maria del Pi. Never in its history, the Pi had suffered such devastating destruction and loss of heritage as big as what took place that fateful day: the fire completely consumed the altar and choir stalls, and some websites chapels and the highest organ of the choir. The rose window and broke the windows of the presbytery and heat the building underwent many structural damage, especially to the deck and keystones. The sacristy and rectory were also burned and looted. Chapel of Blood burned so fiercely that the roof collapsed, endangering important file that was on it. Fortunately was saved for the most part, thanks to the heroic action of some government officials, among which Jordi Rubio i Balaguer had.
After the war, the church is in a really precarious. Need a great effort by the community and its governing restore it, start again and parish life, gradually recovering the dignity of the temple, which is definitely a treasure in Barcelona and all those who love the faith, art and culture.
The opening of the Museum and Treasury of the Basilica, in 2011, aims to highlight these values , the heirs of more than 1000 years of history of Santa Maria del Pi church and invites you to discover how much your neighbors those from abroad come to visit. With it opens a new stage in the life of this parish, who looks to the future with hope and enthusiasm.