Pilgrimage to Spain: Day 6, Barcelona

America Media is going on an Ignatian pilgrimage to Spain, from Nov. 1 to 10, with Editor in Chief Matt Malone, S.J., and Senior Editor Ed Schmidt, S.J., as our guides. They’ll walk in the footsteps of St. Ignatius and visit Loyola, Aranzazu, Xavier, Manressa, Montserrat and Barcelona, seeking to find God in all things. 

Here Edward W. Schmidt, S.J., offers a reflection from Barcelona. Visit our special pilgrimage web site to follow their trip, watch videos, and submit prayer requests.

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There has been a settlement on the site of Barcelona for several thousand years. It was a major Roman port, and the name is very old, but its origin is disputed. It was the center of the region of Catalonia, and its rulers grew very strong as the Counts of Catalonia. Eventually through dynastic marriage it merged with the Kingdom of Aragon and then with the united monarchy of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, which became united Spain. It maintained its identity, however, and its Catalan language, not without determination and struggle. It is the sixth largest metropolitan area in Europe and the largest port on the Mediterranean.

In Manresa Ignatius had drawn the attention of a number of upperclass women who took care of this obviously holy man. Once he got to Barcelona, he received hospitality from Ines Pascual, who gave him accommodation in a small room in the garret of her home. Her son, Juan, later told how he had heard Ignatius at his nightly prayers whispering: “O my God, how infinitely good thou art, for thou bearest with a man who is so wicked and corrupt as I am.”

During this time Ignatius met Isabel Roser, who became a faithful friend and helped him on his return to Barcelona after Jerusalem. In fact she, with two others, some years later were in fact members of the Society of Jesus for about a year. From Barcelona he arranged his passage to Jerusalem; after Jerusalem he returned here and stayed about two years as a student.

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