Vic is the capital of the comarca of Osona, in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The geographic situation, only 69 km far from Barcelona and 60 km from Girona, has made Vic one of the most important cities in central Catalonia.
During the 8th and 9th centuries, Vic sat in the Spanish Marches that separated Frankish and Islamic forces. It was destroyed in 788 during a Muslim incursion. Afterwards only one quarter was rebuilt, which was called Vicus Ausonensis (vicus is Latin for city borough), from which the name Vic was derived, when it was repopulated by Wilfred the Hairy in 878 who gained control over the high part of the city and gave up the lowest part to the bishop to construct the episcopal see. From then on, the city was ruled by the count of Barcelona and by the bishop of Vic.
During the 18th century the city was the first focus of the rebellion against the centralist policy of king Philip V of Spain. The conflict became the War of the Spanish Succession, which resulted in Catalonia losing its freedom as a nation.
The introduction of Christianity was undoubtedly very early, as martyrs of Ausa are recorded in the time of Emperor Decius, and in the earliest records of the Tarraconensian sees the Bishop of Vic is one of the very first mentioned. None, however, is mentioned by name until 516 when Cinidius is named as assisting at the provincial Council of Tarragona and Girona. Aquilinus (589-99) attended the third Council of Toledo; Esteban, the fourth and one at Egara; Dominus, the sixth of Toledo; Guericus, the eighth; Wisefredus sent his vicar to the thirteenth, and attended in person the fifteenth and sixteenth. With this bishop ends the history of the Church of Ausona before the Saracen invasion.
The reconquest of Vic was begun in the time of Louis the Pious, who confided the civil government to Borrell, Count of Ausona, all ecclesiastical matters being under the direction of the Archbishop of Narbonne.
In 826 Vic fell once more into the hands of the Moors and was finally reconquered by Wilfred the Hairy, independent Count of Barcelona.
Count Wilfred dedicated to the Blessed Virgin the famous monastery of Ripoll, which was already in existence in 888, and obtained form the Archbishop of Narbonne the consecration of Godmarus as Bishop of Vic. The bishops and the family of Montcada disputed the right of sovereignty over the city until 1315, when the Bishop Berenguer Gaguardia ceded his rights to the king, James II, who also purchased the rights of the Moncadas.
Bishop Atton (960-72) is worthy of mention as a great promoter of studies. Many persons availed themselves of the advantages offered by his reforms, among them Gerbert, the monk of Aurillac, afterwards Pope Sylvester II, who was distinguished for his learning.
Another of the most illustrious bishops of Vic was Oliva (1018-46), son of the Count of Besalú, and Abbot of Ripoll where he reconstructed and richly decorated the church. The dedication took place 15 January, 1032. He also, with the help of Ermesinda, Countess of Barcelona, reconstructed the cathedral and dedicated it to Sts. Peter and Paul on 31 August, 1038. In the time of his successor Guillermo I the relics of its patron saints, the martyrs Lucianus and Marcianus, were found at Vic, and a council was held for the restoration of peace among the faithful.
Berenguer Seniofredo reformed the chapter, expelling lax members and introducing regular observance. Berenguer obtained for himself the dignity of Archbishop of Tarragona, which was contested by the Bishop of Narbonne. Among the Spanish bishops who attended the Council of Trent was Acisclo Moya de Contreras, Bishop of Vic, who was accompanied by the theologian Pedro Mercado.
Of the more recent bishops, Josep Morgades i Gili deserves special mention. He restored the monastery of Ripoll, destroyed and pillaged by the revolutionists, and reconsecrated its church on 1 July, 1893. He also established at Vic an archaeological museum where he collected many treasures of medieval art which had been dispersed among the ancient churches of the diocese. The next Bishop of Vic was Josep Torres i Bages, a man of great culture and learning.
Other celebrated natives of Vic diocese include:
The city is famous for its sausages and other pork derivatives, especially fuet, a thin cured sausage. The making of cured sausages and cold meats stems from the Vic plain's long tradition of pig farming.
The very ancient Church of S. Maria was rebuilt from the foundations by Canon Guillem Bonfil in 1140, and consecrated forty years later by Bishop Pere Retorta. In 1787 it was demolished to make room for the new Cathedral. Bishop Jordi (915- 38) reconsecrated the Church of Ripoll and also consecrated that of Sta. Maria de Manresa.
The original cathedral, which had but a single nave, thick walls, and few windows, was replaced by that built by Bishop Oliva. As early as the thirteenth century Bishop Raimond d'Anglesola wrote a pastoral letter exhorting his people to contribute towards repairing the cathedral. In 1401 Bishop Diego de Heredia added a transept, and in 1585 the door of Sant Joan was added, but the necessity of a complete reconstruction was soon recognized, and towards the end of the eighteenth century the building was torn down, and the corner stone of the new one was laid on 24 September, 1781. It was consecrated on 15 September, 1803. It is classic in design, a combination of Doric and Tuscan, with a facade of white stone enriched with a beautiful balustrade. It has three entrances, corresponding to the three naves, and colossal statutes of its six patrons. The interior is Corinthian. All the monuments and altars were destroyed when the old church was demolished, except the high altar which is of alabaster, in the Gothic style, and was given early in the fifteen century by D. Bernat Despujol. Among the chapels that of St. Bernat Calvó (1233-43), who assisted James I of Aragon in the conquest of Valencia, deserves special mention. The two-storied Gothic cloister is exceedingly beautiful. A handsome Gothic doorway leading to the chapter house has been preserved.
The conciliar seminary was begun in 1635 by Gaspar Gil and was finally finished, by command of Pope Benedict XIV, by Manuel Muñoz in 1748. The modern seminary is located in the former Jesuit College. It has sent out many famous men, among them Balmes and the poet Jacint Verdaguer, author of "L'Atlàntida". The episcopal palace was destroyed in the wars of 1640 and rebuilt by degrees, being completed by Bishop Veyan. The archaeological museum is in this building.
Manresa, where St. Ignatius Loyola wrote his Spiritual Exercises, is situated in the Diocese of Vic. His memory is venerated in the Santa Cova, which has been converted into a church, and a magnificent college of the Jesuits built near it.
The greatest glory of Vic of modern times is Jaume Balmes, the foremost Spanish philosopher of the nineteenth century, whose remains are interred in the cloister of the cathedral. His first centenary was celebrated at Vic by a Catholic Congress.
Other celebrated natives of Vic include: