Focus 2008

Barcelona - SBA01-06-2008

Project: Pilgrimage in Don Bosco's footsteps
Date: May 2008
Place: Barcelona
Province: SBA

Casa Prats / Talleres Salesianos in Sarriá

The present provincial house for the Salesians of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè Province is the oldest part of the so-called Talleres Salesianos, opened in 1884, in Casa Prats de Sarriá, then a town near Barcelona, thanks to the initiative, effort and generosity of Dorotea de Chopitea, widow of Serra.She put Don Bosco up here for nearly a month (8 April-6 May 1886). Three of the balconies on the first and main floor have been preserved. The centre and left ones as one looks at the facade are the 'blessing balconies' from which Don Bosco used bless the people in the courtyard and on the road nearby.

Once we enter the house, on the first floor, we come to the ante-room and reception area where people waited for Don Bosco (today the Provincial Council meeting room) and, on the right, the chapel where Don Bosco's room used be (now the sancturay area). This is where the Saint held audiences, performed some miracles and had his famous Salesian mission dream (night of 9 and 10 April).

Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy

In Plaza de la Merced, near the sea,  the Basílica of Our Lady of Mercy and St Michael the Archangel was built.

The Our Lady of Mercy, venerated here, is Patroness of Barcelona. On evening of 5 May 1886, Don Bosco visited the church.

The organisers of the visit took advantage of his presence, in this most important place for Barcelona citizens,  to grant him a plot of land on the top of Mount Tibidabo.

Hotel Gran Vía

Gran Via was the homestead of the Serra-Chopitea family, in Gran Vía de Las Cortes Catalanas. It had four floors. The first or main floor, entered via a wide vestibule and majestic staircase, was mainly given over to the social life of the family. Around its graceful columns were the more noble spaces: reception hall, master bedrooms, chapel and grand dining room, with kitchen and pantry.

There is a double significance of a Salesian kind. 1st. With reference to Venerable Dorotea: she lived here for the last eighteen years of her life, from 1873 to 1891. Here she was mother of the family and Salesian Cooperator. The letter to Don Bosco, written on 20 September 1882, asking him for a Salesian foundation in Barcelona, was written here. 2nd. With reference to Don Bosco and the Salesians Don Bosco visited the house on three occasions. The first, on 8 April, to rest after his long journey from Marseilles. The second, on 30th of the same month, to eat and to get ready for his Salesian Conference in the Church at Belén. The third, on 5 May, the eve of his return to Italy, to say Mass and eat with the family before leaving.

While doña Dorotea was alive, the Salesians of Sarriá always saw this place as part of their own home especially the two first Rectors, Fr Juan Branda and Blessed Philip Rinaldi, who used call her, today Venerable Dorotea, mother.

Martí-Codolar farm in Horta

North of Barcelona, in the ancient town of San Juan de Horta, now a suburb of the Catalan capital.

On 3 May 1886, Don Bosco visited the Torre de la Granja Vieja, then the property of don Luis Martí-Codolar and his wife doña Consuelo Pascual de Bofarull, a family connected with the Serra-Chopitea family (one of doña Consuelo's brothers had married a daughter of doña Dorotea).

During the meal given to Don Bosco they indicated they would give him land at the summit of  Tibidabo. After the meal the guest retired (in the room which is now a chapel). Then he met various people.

At four in the afternoon, Don Bosco went down to the courtyard where everyone was waiting. The house photographer - Joaquín Pascual Martí-Codolar, known more familiarly as Kimm- gathered people around a young cedar tree. He took one of the best - if not the best - photos we have of Don Bosco.

Before returning to Sarriá, Don Bosco, with don Luis and his secretary Viglietti, went for a walk through the grounds, appreciating the beauty of the gardens and the zoo.

As soon as Don Bosco had left, Señor Martí-Codolar had the idea of keeping a record of the day's visit at his farmstead at Horta. He soon had a commemorative stone produced.

In 1949, the sons of Don Bosco established a house there. From then on, Martí-Codolar has been a Salesian House with many activities.


Tibidabo is the highest point on the Collserola range. It was a group of monks who had earlier established a monastery on the slopes who gave the Latin and Biblical name to the place (Tibi-dabo = I will give you).

Don Bosco knew nothing of this mountain. He simply looked prophetically at its peak. He imagined it with a large church dedicated to the Sacred Heart. And he set the Salesians on the path of realising this dream.

What he wasn't able to complete, doña Dorotea did. Effectively she decided to set up a  hermitage there at her own expense, at the highest point of the land given to Don Bosco. Twenty days or so after he left for Italy, work began. On 3 July1886, it was blessed and opened. It has still been preserved today. This little seed then grew over the years. On 28 December 1902, the Salesians laid the first stone for what is today's crypt, and blessed it in 1911. Then the columns and walls of the future Church were commenced. From 1940 steps were taken to complete the work. Twenty years after it began - during which all of Salesian Spain assisted - the Church was finished, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Tibidabo (1961).

Once the lower church or crypt was completed, the Salesiasn set up a community there in 1912.

(Taken from:RAMÓN ALBERDI, Don Bosco en Barcelona. Itinerario. Barcelona 1986) by Pablo Marín. SDB
Address: Inspectoria Salesiana
Plaça d'Artós, 4
08017 Barcelona
Tel: (+34)