Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 20, 2006
Miracle cures attributed to St. Joseph
Born into poverty, this saint dedicated his life to the poor
St. Joseph Oriol – March 23
By TED FITZGERALD
- Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
Santa Maria del Pi church is adorned with a celebrated rose window.
As with many Spanish churches, del Pi is a virtual museum of sacred art. Starting with a statue of Our Lady with the Christ Child above the main entrance, Mary is honoured in several of the 14 or so side chapels flanking the nave.
A simple sculpture of the church patron occupies a central niche in the apse wall behind the altar and she is venerated in one chapel as Our Lady of Mercy. Another Marian sculpture is admired as the single miraculous survivor of the civil-war-inspired arson that almost destroyed the church in 1936.
What makes the church unusual and a major attraction for tourists is the presence of a map and plaque in the Sant Josep chapel that direct visitors (oddly enough, in English, since most signs in the city are written in Castilian or Catalan) to specific places in the church, including the saint's tomb, where miraculous cures are said to have taken place.
Controversy has recently risen over the desirability of having these directions in a church, but new cures are routinely reported in the parish bulletin.
Images and chapels honouring the popular local saint can also be seen in many of the city's parish churches such as Esglesia Santa Maria del Mar, his childhood parish.
In addition to its fundamental purpose as a parish church and a shrine honouring the saint, del Pi is also a popular venue for secular and religious musical concerts, often featuring the works of familiar national composers, such as Joaquin Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla.
Visitors leaving the historic church might decide to enjoy the daytime crowds that fill the little placas from the relative security of an outdoor table and enjoy a tantalizing chocolate waffle and tea.
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