The disappearing bishop

This is Manuel Irurita, regionalist-traditionalist head of the diocese of Barcelona, and one of 8,352 citizens disposed of by, or to the complete indifference of, the Republican authorities in Catalonia during the Civil War for fear that their political and religious beliefs might not be fully compatible with certain contemporary notions of liberty and progress.

It seems a bit unfair that, while the municipal authorities have no problems with memorials for psychos (Buenaventura Durruti and Salvador Puig Antich) and leaders of coups against the Second Republic (Francesc Macià and Lluís Companys), there is nothing to recall the good (or even not so good, but peaceful) bishop. (Bishop Street was renamed in his memory after the war, but the victors of the transition from dictatorship rerenamed it and have so far resisted my campaign to have it rererenamed to its early fifteenth century name, Bisbal Street.)

There is, however, worse to come, and I’m not talking about the profanation of Irurita’s grave in Montcada cemetery in 1999, the confusion over his remains, or the continuing uncertainty concerning his beatification.

No, Poble Nou’s Ateneu Colon seems to have declined to recall the most interesting event in its history: that it was on their premises that Irurita was condemned to death by an anarchist kangaroo court (anarchist kangaroos are the worst, my dear), following the discovery of his hiding place in the house of a jeweller at Call 17.

They have forgotten, but the angel of history is having a laugh tonight: the Ateneo’s old building on Pere IV has just been demolished to make way for a Holiday Inn.

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