Master of Cardona

Mural paintings of Sant Salvador de Polinyà

  • Polinyà. Circa 1122
  • Fresco
  • From the parish church of Sant Salvador de Polinyà
  • MDB 401, 402, 403, 404, 405 and 680

The parish church of Sant Salvador de Polinyà was consecrated by the bishop Saint Oleguer in 1122, and thus its wall paintings were also inaugurated.

Romanesque wall painting acquires great quality and popularity in Catalonia, especially at the end of the 11th century and the first half of the 12th century. The value of the symbol, the geometrization of the forms, the anti-naturalism in the figures as well as the ornamental exuberance are characteristic features of this Romanesque style.


Altar candlestick

  • Catalonia. Fifteenth century
  • Laminated wrought iron
  • MDB 421


Altar candlestick

  • Catalonia. Mid-fifteenth century
  • Rolled and riveted wrought iron
  • From the parish church of Collbató
  • MDB 422

Usually the altars were lit with candlesticks holding lit candles. In Christianity, light is one of the most powerful symbols to refer to the resurrected Christ, who is present on the altar in bread and wine. That is why these candlesticks, magnificent works of forging, take a major role in the distribution of the presbytery.


Mother of God

  • Catalonia. Second half of the twelfth century
  • Carving in polychromed in tempera wood
  • MDB 259


Altar from Santiga

  • Fifth century (with later graffiti)
  • Marble
  • From Santa Maria l’Antiga or Santiga (Santa Perpètua de Mogoda)
  • MDB 298 and 299

The Santiga marble altarpiece, attributable to the early Christian era, is the one used in the pre-Romanesque church since it was erected in the Carolingian period and at least until the 12th century. It is a piece that belonged to a previous temple reused for the construction and consecration of the pre-Romanesque church.


Holy water stoup

  • Twelfth-thirteenth centuries
  • Stone
  • MDB 397

Located at the entrance of the church, it contains holy water, a symbol of purification, with which the faithful wash themselves by making the sign of the cross to remember their own baptism.



  • Circa 1200
  • Carved wood
  • From Roussillon?
  • MDB 297

This type of carving is also called the Triumphant Cross or Majesty in Catalan Romanesque carving. This iconographic scheme reminds Christians of the triumph of Christ over death, depicted with open eyes and dressed in a robe probably polychromed with vivid colours originally, now lost. The Majesty is not represented suffering and dying, but rather triumphant and crowned (although in this case it is not).

The majesties were under the entrance arcade to the choir, called the triumphal arcade, sometimes hanging from the arch with chains, or on a cross beam of the arcade. It could also be placed on the altar.


Abbot Guerau Clasquerí’s staff

  • Catalonia. End of the thirteenth century
  • Carved, gilded and polychromed wood
  • From the Monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès
  • MDB 102

The staff probably took on a liturgical character at the time of the Gregorian reform (11th century), although it is not known as a liturgical piece until the 12th century. Bishops and abbots could use this insignia when they were in their jurisdiction, and it symbolized their work as a shepherd who guides the people. Even today, the staff is handed to the new bishop with these words: “Receive the staff, symbol of the pastoral office; and watch over the whole flock, since the Holy Spirit has made you a bishop to shepherd the Church of God.”


Visitatio diversarum eclesiarum de anno 1303

  • 1303
  • Volume on paper, bound in parchment
  • 245 x 170 mm.
  • ADB, Visites pastorals, vol. 1/1

The pastoral visits are a document of great value to learn about details of religious and political life in the diocese. This is the first visit of our diocese, made by Bishop Ponç de Gualba, and one of the first in the world. It contains an interesting roster of parishes, and the main theme is the morality of priests and parishioners. Bishop Ponç de Gualba performed more than two thousand tonsures; this drawing indicates the dimensions they had to have. Some tonsured clerics later chose to marry, and were called clerici uxurati (married clerics). In a much-sacralised society, it was common to receive the clerical tonsure, thus opting for clerical privilege. Therefore, if they were tried, they could ask that it be by an ecclesiastical court, which was always more benign.


Altar frontal of Santa Perpetua de Mogoda

  • Circa 1300
  • Tempera on wood
  • It comes from the parish church of Santa Perpètua de Mogoda
  • MDB 400

These polychromed tables were anchored to the floor and the altar table, so that during the celebrations the faithful could contemplate the work and internalize the message. Later on, their position was changed and they were placed on the wall behind the altar, like primitive altarpieces, being the oldest antecedent of the majestic Gothic altarpieces.


Host box

  • Fourteenth century
  • Wrought iron and stamped with mould
  • MDB 308

These curious vessels were known at the end of the 9th century and are often mentioned in the first pastoral visits of Bishop Ponç de Gualba (1309). They served as moulds to make with bread dough the holy hosts that the faithful share during the celebration of mass.


Fr. Enrique Flórez de Setién

España sagrada, vol. 29th

  • Madrid: Imp. José Rodríguez, 1859
  • Map of the diocese of Barcelona drawn by Francisco Xavier de Garma i Durán around 1770, and engraved by the cartographer Tomás López.

In the 14th century, the deaneries of Vallès and Penedès appeared, and shortly after that of Piera. The areas that were outside of it made up the Officialat. The foreign deaneries or officialities participated by episcopal delegation of a restricted jurisdiction of the ordinary, so that the faithful of those demarcations could go to it to carry out some ecclesiastical administrative tasks without having to go to the curia of Barcelona. Around 1770, Garma indicates on his map the reference landmarks in the deaneries’ boundaries.


Saint Romanus, altarpiece compartment

  • Catalonia. Third quarter of the fourteenth century
  • Tempera painting on wood
  • From the parish church of Santa Maria de Miralles
  • MDB 42

Throughout the late Middle Ages, the cult of saints, and especially of their relics, spread widely throughout Christendom. Popular devotion led to the construction of chapels in churches and to the development of altarpieces and other liturgical furniture that served to contain images, whether painted or sculpted.



  • Catalunya, finales del siglo XIII
  • Talla de madera policromada
  • MDB 307

It is a representation of the suffering crucified (Christus patiens), which is depicted with a painful and humanized view of Christ, as opposed to the iconography of the Majesty, where the divine nature of Jesus is represented.


Virgin of Santa Maria de Toudell

  • Catalonia. Thirteenth century
  • Polychromed, carved wood
  • From the church of Santa Maria de Toudell (Viladecavalls del Vallès)
  • MDB 273

Romanesque wood sculpture spread in Catalonia especially from the 12th century. The polychromed carvings, which very often represent the Virgin Mary with the Child, are rigid in nature, marked by the compositional frontality, in which the Virgin Mary is presented as the Throne of Wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae), with the Child seated on the lap.


Processional cross of Sant Pere de Riudebitlles

  • Circa 1300
  • Cut crystal rock and golden copper on metal core
  • From the parish church of Sant Pere de Riudebitlles
  • MDB 154

Despite being little known, crystal rock crosses in Catalan monasteries, parishes and cathedrals are quite common between the 13th and 14th centuries, and it is common to find them cited in the inventories of pastoral visits (crucem cristallinam). They were used especially for new-born burials.


Virgin Mary of Sant Pau del Camp

  • Catalonia. End of the thirteenth century – fourteenth century
  • Carved, polychromed wood
  • From the Monastery of Sant Pau del Camp in Barcelona
  • MDB 268

The polychromy in Romanesque Virgin Mary had the purpose of giving her greater naturalism and highlighting her expressive features or ornamentation. Apart from the devotional function, the carvings played an active role in the liturgy of the time, given that they could preside over processions.