Saint of the Day – 9 March – Saint Pacian of Barcelona (c 310–391) Bishop and Father of the Church.
St Pacian was the Bishop of Barcelona during the fourth century. He was Bishop from about 365 to 391, succeeding Praetextatus, who had attended a church council at Sardica in 347 and who is the first recorded Bishop of Barcelona.
Considered a Father of the Church, Pacian is eulogised in St Jerome’s De viris illustribus – Catalogue of Illustrious Men, in which Jerome praises his eloquence, learning, chastity and holiness of life. St Pacian was married and had a son, Flavius Dexter, who served as high chamberlain to Theodosius I and as praetorian prefect to Honorius, the Western Roman Emperor. St Jerome did not know Pacian personally but knew Pacian’s son, to whom De Viris Illustribus is dedicated.
St Pacian gained fame when Barcelona became internationally recognised among the most important dioceses within the history of the universal Church. His writings – like the breviary or the divine office read by all Catholic priests – are still widely in use today.
Saint Pacian’s writings are extant only in part, in three letters and a short treatise, Paraenesis ad Poenitentiam. In his writings, he discussed ecclesiastical discipline, baptism, papal primacy and teachings on penance against Novatianism, which was then flourishing in Spain.
He is also remembered from a phrase from one of his letters – Christianus mihi nomen est, catholicus vero cognomen -“My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic.”
Inside the Barcelona Cathedral, his seat, is a baroque altarpiece by the sculptor Joan Roig from 1688, representing scenes from the lives of Saint Pacian and of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and St Francis Xavier. This splendid image of Saint Pacian presides above the altarpiece.
At the right is a depiction of the election of Saint Pacian as bishop of Barcelon, his visit to the Pope and his burial.