Biography of Abad Oliba de Ripoll (970-1046)

Bishop and Abbot Spanish, third son of the counts of Cerdenya and Besalú (Girona), Oliba Cabreta and Ermengarde, and grandson of Wilfred the hairy, born in Girona, in the year 970, and died in the monastery of Cuixà, on 30 October of the year 1046.

Following the resignation of his father in the year 988, Oliba was exercise, along with his mother and siblings, the County functions on the territorial heritage of the family. When in the year 994 family heritage States were divided between the heirs, Oliba served as Condé, along with his other brother Guifré, in the territories of the Cerdenya, the Confleut, Berga and Capcir. Between 1002 and 1003, Oliba resigned from his Barcelona title to enter as a novice in the Benedictine monastery of Santa María de Ripoll, monastery which belonged to his family and he/she was elected Abbot in the year 1008. Since then held the title of Abbot of Santa María de el Canigó and San Miguel de Cuixá. Probably, thanks to the intercession of the Countess of Barcelona, Ermerinda, Oliba was elected Bishop of Vich, in the year 1018. In this role, it demonstrated a commendable and rare religious zeal; combined to perfection their positions of Abbot and Bishop, and deployed an intense judicial and reconcile activity in defence of property and the parishioners of his diocese, threatened by continued frank and Muslim incursions. Therefore, it took much of the fortification and repopulation of the brand of la Segarra. Oliba was, likewise, one of the first Catalan bishops who promoted the holding of a Synod assemblies, also himself to several metropolitan councils as from Narbona, celebrated in the year 1022, which enabled the establishment of close contacts between him and some of the most relevant religious personalities of his time (Guifré archbishops of Narbonne and Raimbau of Arles(, and the Pere bishops of Girona and Berenguer de Elna). Great fidelity who always showed his family resulted in the vain attempt, along with their brother Bernat, create a bishopric in Besalú. The denial of such a project by the counts of Barcelona not prevented show their unconditional support to the House of Barcelona, especially its great supporters, the Countess Ermesinda, and ideal politician representing the Barcelonian counts, faced with an excessively argumentative nobility with the absolute power of the County of Barcelona.

But where it really highlighted the work of Oliba was culturally. The impulse given to the Catalan Romanesque architecture, which was reflected in the construction of the monasteries of Cuixà and Ripoll and the widening of the naves of the Cathedral of Vich was remarkable. Thanks to its intellectual impulse, archive of the monastery of Ripoll is enlarged with seventy-one new codices to which protected with the Decree of immediate excommunication for anyone who fly steal them or damaging them. Likewise, the own Oliba stood out as a distinguished man of letters. He/She wrote a conciliar letter to all the monasteries of his order, several Epistles to Kings, prelates and magnates and a memory in which left a series of rules and documents relating to the Government of the monastery to its successors. Finally, on January 15 of the year 1032, Oliba was consecrated the basilica of Santa María de Ripoll, whose works had directed and advised, as a religious and intellectual Centre of the first magnitude.

Upon his death, which occurred in the Cuixà monastery in the year 1041, the Abbot of Ripoll and Cuixa wrote an Epistle to over eighty churches and monasteries in Catalonia as a sign of pain and mourning.


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CARBONELL I ESTELLER, Eduard: the architecture of the first catalan Romanesque. (Madrid: Group 16. 1991).

NADAL I FARRERAS, Joaquim and WOLFF, Philippe: history of Catalonia. (Barcelona: Oikos-Tau. 1992).

VALLS I TABERNER, Ferran: history of Catalonia. (Madrid: Alianza. 1982).