Francesc Canals i Ambrós: the Saint of Poblenou
Francesc Canals i Ambrós was born in Barcelona in 1877. He was a very kind young boy who always helped everyone and was consequently very beloved by neighbors and acquaintances. When he was 14 years old, he went to work in the popular Barcelonese store “El Siglo” and quickly earned his reputation as a good person by distributing his salary to the neediest several times. However, this was not the only thing that made him popular: people believed that Francesc had also some paranormal abilities such as guessing the time of death of a person just by looking into their eyes, predicting the future and the ability to heal with his own hands.
One of the two most famous predictions that Francesc made was that the “El Siglo” store would burn and destroyed by the flames, an event that actually happened 33 years later, on Christmas 1932. The other famous prediction was that he would die young and that his blind father would recover his sight immediately after. And in fact, Francesc died on July 27, 1899 at the age of 22.
The cause of his death is unknown: some sources say, that he died of tuberculosis while according to others he died due to the injuries that he had suffered when trying to save his neighbors from a fire. Either way, his father started seeing again the same day.
Francesc was buried in the Cemetery of Poblenou in Barcelona and shortly after his death, a cult of veneration began around him.
People massively visited his grave to leave their offerings, to pray but also to ask for favors.
As story goes, he fulfilled every request related to health and love, but never the ones related to money. The ritual was, that after asking for your wish, you had to go away, walking on your own steps without turning your back to the grave.
Very soon Francesc became known among people as the Saint of Poblenou (“El Santet de Poblenou”).
The problem was that his grave was in a high niche, so visitors had to use a ladder to place flowers and other objects in it. This is why, in 1908, the City Council decided to move Francesc`s remains to his current location, in a niche at ground level.
In the center, there is the main niche closed with transparent glass, with a small opening to deposit letters and messages to Francesc. On the sides, there are 12 more niches, that serve as altars, where visitors can leave flowers, candles and all kinds of other objects.
Even though the Saint of Poblenou and his miracles have never been recognized by the Church, that did not stop the people from believing and visiting his grave even after more than 120 years.
Images from web – Google Research