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Saint James Church

Barcelona

The Gothic church that you can see today in Ferran Street has not always been dedicated to Saint James. It is a short story, and we are going to reveal it to you right now:

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The Gothic church that you can see today in Ferran Street has not always been dedicated to Saint James. It is a short story, and we are going to reveal it to you right now:

They began to build the church on the remains of a synagogue when the fourteenth century was about to end. First, it belonged to some nuns and then to the Trinitarian order, a community that was maintained by the church for three centuries until, in 1835, the ecclesiastic confiscations of Mendizabal arrived, which allowed to sell it and so the friars had to leave.

Twelve years before it, in Saint James Square, which is near here, a very ancient church, the original temple or Saint James, was hindering the works of the new square and it got demolished. So, when the monks left the church of Ferran Street free, they decided to use this one as the new parish and was given the name of the one that had been destroyed.

But the history of the two churches does not end here. If you look at the current Saint James church, you will see that it has no stairs at its entry, right? Well, the one that was demolished in the square did have them: three resounding steps which the merchants of the city cursed many times.

As is known, around the great port of Barcelona there was always a lot of activity and swarms of merchants, businessmen and dealers. Some were lucky and managed to succeed, while many others went bankrupt and were exposed to the hostility of their creditors.

In order not to be accused of fraud by the distrustful and to avoid greater evils, the broken merchant had to go to that church and declare the state of his finances publicly. Then, he had to sit on the top step and bounce down on his bum. Humiliation, yes, but being the Middle Ages and a matter of money, undoubtedly the alternative wasn’t more attractive.

Now that you know this about the bums on the steps, the church that you see, without the steps, has less grace… Why should we deny it? However, there is something in its interior that subtly unites it with that habit of bouncing the rearguard after an economic misfortune: that would be an image of Saint Expeditus.

It turns out that this Saint is the patron of urgent causes, that is, the one to whom one goes when you´ve lost everything you have. We could say, then, that it is a remnant of that medieval tradition which many people have kept alive with prayers and offerings over the centuries because economic problems don’t just leave this world.


Saint James Church

Carrer de Ferran, 28
08002 Barcelona
(+34) 933 02 22 89

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