Born January 14, 1875 in Vic (Barcelona)
Professed August 20, 1893
Ordained a priest September 29, 1901
Shot August 17, 1936 in Vic (Barcelona)
Fr. Puigdessens was born in Vic on January 14, 1875 and was baptized two days after his birth in the Cathedral of the city. On March 8, 1877, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation by the Bishop of Vic. His parents were Don Jaime Puigdessens and Dª. Dolores Pujol, who educated him according to Christian principles.
In 1886, he began to study the rudiments of Latin and Spanish at the Conciliar Seminary in Vic. There he studied until the summer of 1889, when he decided to enter the Congregation of the Missionaries after having obtained the concent of his mother on September 9th. His father had passed away.
When he entered the Congregation it was in Barbastro. Here he continued with the study of the Humanities and the second year of Latin. The Novitiate would take place in Cervera under the direction of Fr. Antonio Sánchez del Val. After completing the year, he would make his First Profession on August 20, 1893. Then he began his studies in Philosophy while living in the same house in Cervera. During the third year, in November 1895, he received Tonsure.
In the summer of 1896, he would move on to Santo Domingo de la Calzada to study Dogmatic Theology and Moral Theology with remarkable achievement. In September 1896, he received the Minor Orders. In 1900, when requesting permission to be ordained to the Subdiaconate, he was told no because of “extreme fondness for the secondary sciences, of society, of everything modern. This caused him to be lax in piety and of dealing with a variety of topics.” He would receive the Subdiaconate on January 13, 1901, in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. His Deaconate would be on September 1, of the same year in Miranda de Ebro and in Santo Domingo, The ordination to the Priesthood would take place September 29, 1901, in Santo Domingo, by the Bishop of Osma.
Professor of Theology and writer
His vocation leaned towards research and write, for which he had these intellectual gifts but he also regretted the lack of books and magazines. In June 1902, he was assigned to Cervera as Professor of Metaphysics. In 1906, he would move on to Lleida where he devoted himself to the apostolic ministry. In 1907, he went to Madrid to work as editor in the Illustration Magazine of the clergy and Iris of peace. After two and a half years, he was transferred to Aranda de Duero and in 1910, he went to Alagon, where he continued with his studies on Balmes and the following year to Vic. In 1912, he would be assigned to Rome in order to collect data and materials, so that he could write about the Father Founder. He found the constraints imposed by the Vatican archives. During this time he would attend classes for a doctorate in Philosophy and collect useful materials for the Illustration Magazine of the clergy. He was dazzled by the wealth of their libraries and other Centers of study and art which offered the possibilities to students and scholars.
In September 1913, he was assigned to the house of Tarragona. Here he was appointed Professor of Theology and Patrology at the Pontifical University, where he taught until 1931, and he soon saw the scarcity of means of work. I have no library! His head was a real library and he taught Theology and Philosophy with insurmountable competition.
In 1915, Eugenio D’Ors proposed to Fr. Puigdessens to receive a Chair of Philosophy at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, of which he should reside in Barcelona and also was offered the co-supervision of the Philosophical dictionary in Catalan.
He was commissioned to write a book about Psychology and Experimental Psychology. To this end, he wanted to go to Leuven, where the University had an excellent lab. Soon he went to the University to attend the classes of Experimental Psychology and completing the program also took some of Philosophy and Theology courses. He made that trip in 1920. There he discovered the independence and freedom of method programs for teachers. In this study, although he didn’t like the weather. He believed that it might improve his health. He then moved to Bonn, as part of the faculty of Catholic Theology University. Here he encountered it much easier to learn Psychology by the availability of teachers and the abundance of means. He returned to Spain in November 1920. He was rejuvenated but somewhat disappointed. At the same time, he continued his work on the figure of Father Claret, to see his book published: The Spirit of the V. P. Claret.
In 1931 he was transferred to Solsona as of professor of Experimental Psychology and Prefect of Studies.
In March 1934, he went to Rome to collect materials, so as to continue with his investigations, in which he needed to publish some articles. The summer passed between Albania and Frascati, and at the end of August he returned to Spain.
His health was always average, but over the years became weaker, so that he was “with one foot in the grave and the other in heaven,” as he liked to write to Father Arcadio Larraona. In consideration of this situation and of his commitment to write a book about the value of holiness. After he finished the course of 1935, he was scheduled to go to Vic, where he had more means of study and perhaps some charitable soul that transcribe from machine to manuscripts.
Qualities and virtues
In the Postulancy program he was a little careless and according to the reports of the Father Prefect, he focused too much on academics.
At the end of the Philosophy program, it is reported that he has a strong and stubborn streak, and it has carried into Theology: talented, good memory and outstanding application.
He was a good religious. In 1920, he confesses that he is very interested in learning “but he find it much more interesting to be good religious.”
His spirit usually is depressed and sickly, injection of optimism – had a great love for the Congregation and as long as he could express his plans to the Superior to improve the curriculum of the internal Centers taking into account the scientific guidelines that he had experienced in Leuven, Germany and Rome.
In the afternoon of July 20, 1936, along with Father Aramendia, they took refuge in the house of his sister Ramona, who was residing on Calle San Antonio in the city of Vic. The next day he returned to the community to celebrate mass. A few hours later came the ultimate expulsion of the community and he returned to his sister’s house with Father Aramendia. On the evening of the 21st, the news came that the Convent was burning. Father Puigdessens who had completed some writings, expressed the desire to go in search of other writings left in his cell. Father’s Aramendia and Puigdessens went to the Convent at great risk accompanied by the brother-in-law but the smoke and the fire prevented them from completing their purpose.
The next day, he showed his disappointment for not being able to celebrate Mass or praying the Divine Office. Ramona was able to get a breviary from the chaplain of the neighboring Church of La Soledad. He celebrated mass on the feast of St. James having taken all possible precautions, but as he was known by some neighbors, it proved to be problematic. While he was taking siesta, about a dozen armed militia arrived at the home asking for Fr. Puigdessens. After making inquiries and a investigation of two hours it was recommended that he think of changing his way of life, which he refused to deceive the people with masses and sermons. Above all, he was told not to change his address without notifying the Committee. So he was under the control of the revolutionaries.
Fr. Puigdessens, aware that his former disciple Ventura Gassol, Minister of Culture of the Generalitat, was a representative of the Committee of Vic. So as to save his life, and regain some hope and he wrote a letter to thank him for his interest and explain his situation. At the same time requesting the chance to see him once he was released.
The days passed and the response from Ventura Gassol didn’t arrive and the Committee didn’t offer any guidance. The uncertainty of his expectation would be changed to prayers.
In the early hours of the morning on August 17th, there was a visit from the patrol. The reason or pretext was to find a suitcase that had been seen in the neighboring house. The suitcase appeared and the patrol continued with a fierce reaction which ended with the arrest of the priests. Then Ramona hugged her brother to keep him close to her and didn’t want to let go of him, which proved useless threats of the Reds. Fr. Puigdessens let go of her and said: let me go alone, I have to go.
He left the house between two militiants carrying rifles and then to the Town Hall, which was then Center of the Revolutionary Committee, with a car filled with Reds carrying the typewriter and the suitcases containing the writings and other objects of booty. Around 3:45 in the early morning, a mile and a half on the road from Manlleu, in front of the house called Manofre, Father Aramendia was shot.
He was buried in the cemetery of Vic.