Jacint Verdaguer

Jacint Verdaguer i Santaló (Folgueroles, May 17, 1845 - Vallvidrera, June 10, 1902) is one of the greatest poets of Catalan literature, a prominent literary figure of the Renaixença. The bishop Torras i Bages called him the Prince of the Catalan poets. He was also known as mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, because of his career as a priest.


He was born in Folgueroles, a town on the Plain of Vic, in the comarca of Osona. His father was Josep Verdaguer i Ordeix (Tavèrnoles, 1817-Folgueroles, 1876) and his mother was Josepa Santaló i Planes (Folgueroles, 1819-1871). He was the third of eight children, only three of whom survived. In 1856 at the age of 11 he entered the Seminary of Vic. Until he entered the Seminary he lived like the other children in his town. The anecdotes told about him show that he stood out from his peers for his intelligence, astuteness and courage, helped by his athletic complexion. He showed a normally balanced compassion without any apparent religious inclinations.

In 1863, when he was 18, he started to work as a teacher for a family at Can Tona (where he also helped out on the farm), while he continuted to study. Can Tona is in the municipal district of Sant Martí de Riudeperes, today Calldetenes. In 1865, he participated in Barcelona's Jocs Florals - or "Floral Games" - poetry contest and won four prizes. The next year he won two prizes in the same Jocs Florals.

On September 24 1870 he was ordained priest by the bishop Lluís Jordà in Vic, and in October that same year, he said his first Mass in Sant Jordi hermitage. The next day he said his second Mass in Sant Francesc hermitage near Vic. In 1871, his mother died on January 17 at the age of 52. On September 1 he was appointed bishop coadjutor of Vinyoles d'Orís and three days later he took possession.

In 1873 he published Passió de Nostre Senyor Jesucrist (Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ). He left Vinyoles d'Orís for health reasons and went to Vic. He went on a trip to Roussillon and saw the Canigou, maybe for the first time. In December, he joined the Companyia Transatlàntica as a chaplain because he was prescribed sea air for his health; he embarked in Cadiz bound for Havana.

In 1876, on September 8 his father died at the age of 65. On board the "Ciudad Condal", on the return voyage from Cuba, Jacint Verdaguer finished his epic poem L’Atlàntida. In November he entered the palace of the Marquis of Comillas as an alms chaplain.

In 1877, when he was 32, and having returned from his journey, the jury of the Jocs Florals awarded him the special prize of the Diputation of Barcelona for L'Atlàntida. Now he had earned his reputation as a poet.

In 1878, he traveled to Rome, where he was granted an audience with the Pope Leo XIII. They talked about Verdaguer's poem L'Atlàntida. In 1880, as the winner of three prizes in the Jocs Florals, he was proclaimed Mestre en Gai Saber. That same year he published his book Montserrat.

In 1883 he published Oda a Barcelona (Ode to Barcelona), and the city council of Barcelona produced a printrun of a hundred thousand copies. At the age of 39 Verdaguer traveled to Paris, Switzerland, Germany and Russia. On March 21, 1886, when he was 41 years old, the bishop Morgades crowned him as Poet of Catalonia in the monastery of Ripoll. He published the epic poem Canigó and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In 1893, following controversy about aspects of his work as a priest, he left the post of alms chaplain at the Marquis of Comillas' palace. The publication of the trilogy Jesús Infant was completed, and he was assigned to the sanctuary of la Gleva. For a period, he was stripped of his office as priest, although this was eventually restored. In 1894 the books Roser de tot l'any and Veus del bon pastor were published. On March 31 he left the sanctuary of la Gleva.

On May 17, 1902, on his 57th birthday, he moved from 235 Aragó street in Barcelona, where he lived, to the country house known as Vil·la Joana, in Vallvidrera (Barcelona), where he hoped to convalesce. On June 10 he died in Vil·la Joana. Today, the house, converted into a museum, can be visited.

Verdaguer was buried in the Sud-Oest Montjuïc cemetery in Barcelona.

Selected works

Among his works are:

The scenic cantata Atlàntida, composed by Manuel de Falla and completed after de Falla's death by Ernesto Halffter, is based on Verdaguer's L'Atlàntida. Manuel de Falla considered this large-scale orchestral piece to be the most important of all his works.

Some of his shorter poems are well-known as songs in Catalonia, especially L'Emigrant ("Sweet Catalonia, country of my heart...").

Verdaguer's works are collected in English in Selected Poems of Jacint Verdaguer: A Bilingual Edition, edited and translated by Ronald Puppo, with an introduction by Ramon Pinyol i Torrents, University of Chicago Press, 2007.

External links


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