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Iconic priest and writer Mossèn Ballarín dies at 96

Josep Maria Ballarín, popularly known as ‘Mossèn Ballarín’, was a Catalan priest, writer and intellectual. Regarded as a symbol of Catalanism and defined by some as an atypical priest, he represented one of the most heterodox branches of the Catalan church. Ballarín published more than 40 books and achieved great popularity with ‘Mossèn Tronxo’ (‘Tronxo Priest’) in 1989, which sold more than 100,000 copies. His novel ‘Santa María, pa de cada dia’ (‘Saint Maria, daily bread’) won the Ramon Llull prize in 1996, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of Catalan literature. In 1995 he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi, a prize given by the Catalan government to those individuals or institutions whose work in the political, social, economic, cultural or scientific field has been outstanding. Ballarín died this Friday at the age of 96.

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18 March 2016 02:55 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- Popularly known as ‘Mossèn Ballarín’, Josep Maria Ballarín was a Catalan priest, writer and intellectual who was regarded as a symbol of Catalanism and freedom of speech. He was defined by some as an atypical priest and represented one of the most heterodox branches of the Catalan church. Ballarín fought for the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War and was deported to a concentration camp soon afterwards. He published more than 40 books and achieved great popularity with ‘Mossèn Tronxo’ (‘Tronxo Priest’) in 1989, which sold more than 100,000 copies. In 1995 he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi, a prize given by the Catalan government to those individuals or institutions whose work in the political, social, economic, cultural or scientific field has been outstanding. Ballarín died this Friday at the age of 96.


Early days

Mossèn Ballarín was born in Barcelona in 1920. Soon after finishing his schooling, he fought for the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War as part of the so-called 'Baby bottle conscription', formed by very young soldiers, on average 17 years of age. After the Republican’s defeat, he was deported to a concentration camp where he contracted tuberculosis.

Once he recovered he started his studiesin theology and after some years teaching in Solsona’s seminary, he became a priest in the parish of Santa Maria de Queralt, in Catalonia’s central region of Berguedà. He held this position until 1993.

Career and recognition

Ballarín published more than 40 books and achieved great popularity with ‘Mossèn Tronxo’ (‘Tronxo Priest’) in 1989, which sold more than 100,000 copies. His novel ‘Santa María, pa de cada dia’ (‘Saint Maria, daily bread’) won the Ramon Llull prize in 1996, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of Catalan literature.

He was a very popular figure and participated in many TV and radio programmes, as well as writing for several publications related to the catholic church and for cultural and general newspapers.

In 1995 he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi, a prize given by the Catalan government to those individuals or institutions whose work in the political, social, economic, cultural or scientific field has been outstanding.

Social and political compromise 

In his last interview with CNA, coinciding with the publication of his memoirs in 2015, Ballarín confessed that he became a priest “for the people” as the priest’s task should be “helping people”. He admitted that he was an “atypical priest” and emphasised the “absolute freedom” that he had within the church.

Regarding his political ideology, Ballarín stated that although Catalonia was “a first-level country” Catalans “voted for third-rate politicians”. He also urged for the different parties to form “a common front” to achieve Catalonia’s independence. Ballarín symbolically closed last year’s pro-independence cross-party ‘Junts Pel Sï’ candidature list in the Lleida region.

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  • Ballarin

  • 'Mossèn' Ballarín reading his last book, 'Sac de records' (by ACN)