Finca GŁell by Joan Bassegoda
History of the Catedra
Joan Bassegoda Articles
Gaudinian milestones 2004
Two unedited Gaudí Lamps
Salvador Dalí and Antonio Gaudí
Gaudí and Jujol
The Religious Art of SalvadorDalí
The portico of the Saint Anthony the Abbot church
June: Two Gaudí's anniversaries
The Relationship with Gaudí and Carles Mani

The portico of the Saint Anthony the Abbot church

Gaudí was a pupil of the Piarist fathers in Reus and he was christened “Antón”

The convent of Saint Anthony the Abbot was the creation of a regular monastery of Anthonian canons, which was established in 1430 in the present Ronda de San Pablo and the San Antonio Abad street, destined to be the hospital for the leprous or Lazaretto. The building of the church was started in 1433, which was finished in 1458. In 1803 its community was extinguished and its buildings passed to the Piarist fathers, dedicated to the teaching of the poor from 1815 on.

The church, which portico with three pointed arches, gives to the San Antonio street. In their spandrels there appear sculptured the royal coats of arms of Alfonso V the Magnanimous, king of Aragon and Naples and his wife queen Maria of Castile. Apart from the TAU from the order of Saint Anthony the Abbot, it gave its name to the Ronda dedicated to this saint, and also to the market and the portal of the wall. The convent was burnt in the Semana Trágica riot in July 1909. Although the church preserved its Gothic structure, it lost its choir and the high altar piece by Jaime Huguet from 1456.

In July 1936 the destruction went further, to the point of blowing their vaults up. The portico, giving to the San Antonio street, consists in an upper storey with three pointed arched windows, of which only one of them is authentic and the other ones are reproductions from the beginning of the XX century.

Because of having been walled up the communication between the portico and the church, it ceased to have a religious function and it became a commercial place devoted to selling mattresses and then it changed to the sale of craftsmanship objects. During a period of time it became disused.

It is a great pity that a late Gothic architectural element, which has three beautiful ribbed vaults, and the royal coats of arms in the façade cannot have a more worthy destination. Nowadays there are glass panels which isolate the space of the portico from the street and which allow the view of the precinct from the outside.

Had been it able to complete it with a railing, the precinct could be destined to open chapel to remind the worship to Saint Anthony the Abbot. He is so deeply rooted in that quarter and with such a tradition like the «Festa dels Tres Tombs” and the blessing of the animals in the feast of Saint Anthony. If there is a Ronda, a Market, a street, and there was a portal of the wall dedicated to the saint, it should be good that an image of the pleasant saint being accompanied by the traditional piglet would be visible for those who promenade along the quarter. Another thing must be also kept in mind: Antonio Gaudí Cornet, was christened the 26th June 1852 in the priory church of San Pedro in Reus. He appears in the Register of Christenings bearing the names of Antón, Plácido and Guillermo were imposed to him, as a homage to his mother Antonia Cornet Bertran, to his uncle and godfather, Plácido Gaudí Serra and to the sanit of that date, Saint William, abbot. Gaudí signed indistinctly either as Antonio or Antón, for they are two different saints, Saint Anthony from Padua and Saint Anthony the Abbot but the name which appears in the register of christenings is Antón. When, in 1882, the members of the «Associació Catalanista d’Excursions Científicas>, and the «Associació d'Excursions Catalana signed the document which defended their union, the signature Antón Gaudí may be read.

Saint Anthony and Gaudí

Gaudí was a pupil of the Piarist fathers of Reus, which had established in the former convent of Saint Francis. He studied there the whole Secondary school. Nowadays the Antonio Gaudí’s beatifying process is on the move, as an acknowledgement to his exemplary Christian life and it may be expected that, despite of the nonsense from all those who oppose to it “in odium fidei”. It is very likely that Gaudí will be some day the first architect out of all history to be given worship as a blessed proclaimed by the Church. In that case it would be very fitting that his image should exist beside his patron saint’s one in the portico of the church. For it was, and it still is, the seat of a Piarist school, parallel to the one in Reus, where Gaudi got an education, which yielded such excellent results either from the cultural point of view or the religious one. This portico, which once belonged to this vanished church, must bear the witness of the life of the penitent saint, being him the patron saint of animals. He is depicted in the ancient stamps standing over a globe surrounded by flames, the saint Anthony the Abbot’s fire, with a patent cross with tiny bells and several pigs, the filthy beast. It is the symbol of sin, which the saint managed to win despite of the strong temptations he had suffered in the desert. Unfortunately, the Piarist fathers rented the portico in 2003 and it presently houses a bar, evidently a very unfitting destination for a classified historical-artistic space.


Juan Bassegoda i Nonell


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