Father Gil Parés i Vilasau (1880-1936)

Gil Parés i Vilasau was born in Barcelona the 3 'October of 1880 and he was baptized on the 7th in the parish of Sant Francesc de Paòla. He studied with the Jesuits and finished the high school in 1898. Having vocation to the priesthood, the following year, 1899, Gil Parés entered the Seminar of Barcelona. In 1902 he started to be a catechist in the Crypt of the Holy Family. He knew Gaudí, who treated him cordially and started an inn friendship. On the 17th June, Temperas of Trinity of 1905, at 24 years, Gil Parés received the priestly ordering. He sang the new mass on 22 June of 1905, solemnity of Corpus Christi, in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity of the Jesuits of the street Casp. Following Sunday, 25 June -and fifty-third birthday of Gaudí-, he celebrated Eucharist in the Crypt; and on Monday he took possession of the charge of priest-guardian. He was the first priest-guardian of the Crypt; he was nominated by the bishop of Barcelona, the cardinal Salvador Casañas i Pagès, who intended to convert the Temple of the Holy Family into a parish more of the city, against the opinion of Gaudí. Nevertheless, Gaudí constructed a house so that the priest lived. Gil Parés was a very apostolic priest and in 1906 set up the Apostolate of the Prayer, the League of the Perseverance, the Marian Congregation of Daughters of Maria, the Cultural Association of the Holy Family, etc., on the Crypt. In March of 1907, the Cardinal Casañas, following his idea, established the Crypt as a lieutenancy of the parish of Sant Martí de Provençals and appointed father Gil lieutenant priest. Then, the only altar that there was it was that of the chapel of saint Joseph. Father Gil asked to make one new, provisional, in the widest zone, for being able to pay attention to the great number of believers who came there. Gaudí same was the first parishioner. Gaudí contributed with a reproduction of the altarpiece that the sculptor Josep Llimona had made for the oratory of the house Batlló. (At present, this copy has substituted for the original of the house Batlló, that has been able to recover and that now it is the altarpiece of the altar major of the Crypt). Both, the priest and the architect, collaborated with enthusiasm to act the ceremonies of the Crypt as a model of the Catholic Liturgy, with all its beauty, symbolic wealth and splendor communicative. Gaudí designed carefully the architecture, the decoration, the furniture and the liturgical objects with this purpose. They introduced the Gregorian singing and they entrusted an organ to the builders of Collbató, who did not finish it until 1927. After the Tragic Week, the summer of 1909, father Gil proposed Gaudí of making Schools for the children of the neighborhood that have keeping on growing around the Temple. Gaudí designed and constructed a masterpiece and father Gil was the director, until 1930. Initially, they followed the pedagogic method of father Manjón (1846-1923), founder of the schools of the Ave Maria of Granada. Some years afterwards, in 1915, the method Montessori was applied. Father Gil was nominated by the new bishop of Barcelona, Enric Reig i Casanova, Vice-President of the Board of Works. He was it since 1916 as far as after the death of Gaudí. In 1924, father Gil traveled to Rome. The Pope imparted a special blessing for Gaudí and all workers and parishioners of the Holy Family. In 1928 he repeated the journey. The ideas of Father Gil were moderately republican and favorable to the freedom of the Catalan nation. He had happened for Gaudí a close friend with whom, moreover, had full confidence. Thus, the architect designated him executor in his will. When Gaudí crossed, father Gil took care of everything. They passed four years and the solemnity of Corpus Christi, 29 June of 1930, to the procession for the exposed neighborhood, the Holy Sacrament, in his custody under pallium, came out preceded by the big Catalan flag that Gaudí had designed with this purpose. This did not happen since 1923, in that the coup d'état of the general Primo de Rivera had pioneered an anti-Catalan military dictatorship, copy of the Italian fascism of Mussolini. Precisely, the dictatorship had pressed the Vatican so that it appointed bishop of Barcelona one of the champions of the hatred for the Catalans, their language and their national symbols: Mons. Manuel Irurita, who had arrived to the diocese on 16 May of 1930. He dispossessed father Gil of all the charges in the Holy Family and destined him, as to ascribed, in the Saleses of the promenade of Sant Joan. On to go of the Holy Family, father Gil picked up the books of Gaudí and a small image of saint Benedict. He would never again come back there. On 19 July of 1936, it turned a violent persecution against the Catholics, the more bleeding of the history of Catalonia. The Catholic priests were murdered unpunishedly by hatred for the Christian faith, as well as the persons who hid them or did loan them any kind of help. On Sunday 26 July, a patrol got father Gil in the flat of the teacher of the Schools, Maria Consolation Puig i Querol, in the street Mallorca, 325, where he lived. Not found, because a neighbor, Mr. Clodomir Coll i Ibáñez, aware of the situation, he had offered his apartment for the night. However, as the doorman of the building reported the militiamen that were seen entering Father Gil, they turned around 10 h. to register all the flats of the staircase. Father Gil gave himself voluntarily, with the desire to avoid like this more deaths. They took away the three and they murdered them to the dawn, behind the Hospital of Sant Pau.

Josep Maria Tarragona, Novemeber 21, 2006

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