Francisco Coll y Guitart
18 May 1812 - 2 April 1875

A brief biography.

Francisco Coll y Guitart was born in Grombèn, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain, as one of ten children to Pedro Coll and Magdalena Guitart on 18 May 1812.  He lost his father Peter on `1 April 11816. He was confirmed on 17 August 1818 in Ripoll.  From 1822 till 1830 he studied Latin and Philosophy at the seminary at Vic. His fellow student was Saint Anthony Mary Claret (23.12.1807-24.10.1870). On the 9th of December 1827,  he lost his mother. Even as a kid he taught grammar and catechism to local children. When he was 15 years old, he felt somebody telling him to become a Dominican. He took his time to ponder this invitation. 

Dominican since 1830.

It was most probably the 15th October 1830, when he took on the habit of Saint Dominic in the priory of the Dominicans in Gerona, where he was professed in 1831. He was ordained deacon of the 4th of April 1835 in Barcelona. On August 7, 1835, he was with his fellow friars exclaustrated under Spanish civil law. Some of the convents were burnt down or otherwise destroyed. He completed theological studies in Vic, and was ordained priest on 28th of May 1836 t in the private chapel if the Bishop's palace in Solsona. He was appointed curate at Artès in 1839.

From 1839 till 1849, he was curate at Moià, Catalan Spain, an area devastated by war, awash with starving refugees. He established charitable organizations to feed and house them, and he worked with the poor and displaced for ten years.
In 1845, his Bishop gave him permission to devote himself entirely to itenerant preaching. Saint Anthony M. Claret y Clará (23.12.1807-214.10.1870)  obtained for him from Pope Pius IX the title of 'Apostolic Missionary' on February 6,1848, and Francis Coll helped him to found the Apostolic Fraternity in 1848.

On November 6th,1850, Coll's Dominican Superiors, with whom he made frequent contact, named him Director of the Third Order, now named 'Dominican Laity', for the region of Catalonia. Also in 1850, he re-opened the suppressed Dominican monastery, and began a program of preaching throughout the Catalan region. In 1852, he published the 'Hermosa Rosa' (Beautiful Rose). In 1854, he was in Moià to service the cholera victims during the epidemic that struck in 1854.

The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters since 15 August 1856.


Coll's pastoral work brought him face to face with the lack of teaching, especially to young girls.
So he founded
with the permission of his Bishop and that of the
Commissioner  of the Holy See for the Dominicans in Spain, the
Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary in Vic on 15 August 1856. 
By his death (1875), the Congregation had grown to fifty houses, and today there are over 140 in Europe and America.

 On 29 April 1979, Pope John Paul II celebrated his first beatification in Vatican City; it was the beatification of Francisco Coll y Guitart, O.P.    Vatican City 11979. KimCover PW 57.

 His last days 1869.

On August 2, 1869, Francis Coll suffered a stroke and lost his eyesight.  Struck blind during a homily given at Sallent on 2 December 1869; his health was never the same, but he refused to retire. When the Dominicans were allowed to officially return to the region in 1872, they found that Francis has somehow maintained the primary structures, physical and administrative, and instead of starting all over, they reclaimed what was theirs, and took up their work where they had left off.

 He died on 2 April 1875 of natural causes in Vic. His relics enshrined in the La Annunciata motherhouse, Vic.
He was beatified together with Jacques Desiré Laval (08.12.1803-09.09.1864) by Pope John Paul II as his first beatification on 29 April 1979 in Vatican City. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him in Rome on 11 October 2009.

From the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at the canonization in Rome on 11 October 2009:

Dear brothers and sisters!
Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading (of this Sunday) that "the word of God is living and effective" (Hb 4:12). In it, the Father who is in heaven, lovingly speaks to all his children of all eras (cf. Dei Verbum, 21), allowing them to know his infinite love and, in this way, encouraging them, consoling them and offering to them His plan for salvation of humanity and of each person.
Conscious of this, Saint Francis Coll eagerly dedicated himself to its proclamation, faithfully accomplishing his vocation in the Order of Preachers, in which he worked.

His passion was preaching, for the most part in an itinerant manner and following the form of "popular missions", with the goal of proclaiming and enlivening the Word of God for the peoples and cities of Catalonia, thus leading the people to the profound encounter with Him.
An encounter that elevates the heart to conversion, to receive with joy the divine grace and to maintain constant dialogue with Our Lord through prayer. For this, his evangelizing activity included great devotion to the sacrament of Reconciliation, an outstanding emphasis on the Eucharist and a constant insistence on prayer.

Francis Coll reached the hearts of others because he transmitted what he himself lived with passion, that which burned in his heart: the love of Christ, his devotion to Him. For the seed of the Word of God to encounter fertile ground, Francis founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the goal of providing an integral education to children and youth, so that they could discover the unfathomable wealth that is Christ, this loyal friend who will never abandon us nor tire of being by our side, animating our hope with his Word of life."

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Source: Internet Patron Saints and others.
           : Constantine Mamo, O.P., in International Dominican Information (IDI) Rome ,2009, September no474,
             p. 203 205.

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