The values of our founder, Francesc Moragas, and our benchmark.
150 years ago the man was born who gave us life: Francesc Moragas.
54,750 days have passed since then and each new morning, "with work in the head and people in the heart" as he showed us, we are renewing our commitment to people, especially those most in need, with the optimism, perseverance and values passed on to us by our founder.
The house is still standing in Carrer dels Lledó, in the heart of Barcelona.
That's where Francesc Moragas grew up.
He's the main behind the spirit of ”la Caixa”. With optimism, humanism, discretion and resilience, Francesc Moragas created the very reason for our existence: to ensure people can live decent lives, especially the most vulnerable among us.
It wasn't easy. Firstly, because his health was delicate. But he got stronger through sport and sheer determination. Secondly, because he lost his father when he was just 12. But his stepfather, an insurance expert, would instil in him an interest in social welfare and savings, a concept that was unheard of at the time.
When, in 1902, a huge general strike erupted due to the harsh conditions endured by both children and adult workers (because everyone used to work at that time), the authorities dealt very harshly with the strikers and Francesc Moragas realised his time had come: the time to change the present in order to build a better future.
A pioneer, humanist and man of action, Moragas made the most of his charisma to invoke the help of seven Barcelona businesses and launch an appeal for aid in the press.
It was a success. After compensating the strikers' families, the surplus was used to set up a pension fund. And that was how, on the 5th of April 1904, the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez was born. Yes, ”la Caixa”, whose raison d'être is to help people, especially those most in need.
Today, 150 years after the birth of our founder, we are renewing his spirit and his values are more present than ever, with "work in the head and people in the heart" as he liked to say, as well as the commitment to make this world a better place.
Francesc Moragas is born, the man behind the spirit of ”la Caixa”
After losing his father, Francesc's stepfather trains him in social welfare and savings
From a family of notaries and solicitors, Moragas trains as a lawyer
Clotilde Illa Arquer, one of the important women in Moragas's life
A general strike and an appeal for aid from the business community
The birth of the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez
Homage to the Elderly, a pillar of unprecedented social welfare
The foremost savings bank in Catalonia and Spain
The man who took on the needs of others dies
The bells of Barcelona's cathedral rang out for his christening on the 20th of December 1868. One week earlier, on the 13th, the youngest member of the Moragas Barret family had been born. With a sickly body but a resolute mind and optimistic spirit, Francesc turned that fragility into his strength and his maxim was "The impossible is only a little harder than the difficult".
A sudden heart attack unexpectedly ended the life of Moragas' father, Aristides, as he boarded a train in Blanes. One year later his mother got married again, to the Aragonese lawyer Juan Antonio Sorribas, who turned out to be an excellent mentor. He instilled in Moragas an interest in languages and learning and, when he died, Francesc took over running the magazine Los Seguros. The young Moragas then decided to devote himself heart and soul to social welfare and savings.
With a brilliant academic record, Francesc Moragas qualified as a lawyer with a degree from Barcelona University and in the company of other students who would also become leading figures, such as Enric Prat de la Riba and Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer. Moragas studied hard but also took a break from time to time to tour Catalonia, Spain and France by bicycle, the invention of the era, becoming familiar with people's needs.
The bells rang out for a wedding at the basilica of La Mercè in Barcelona and Francesc Moragas married Clotilde Illa Arquer, a person of great sensitivity. Clotilde, Francesc's mother, Consuelo Barret, an educated woman with a great personality, and María dels Àngels Mateu, who opened the doors of the Montepío de Santa Madrona to him, all had a great influence on Moragas and he did much to empower women through the Institute for Working Women and other initiatives.
Thousands of workers declared an unprecedented general strike in 1902. The police reacted with brutality, killing and wounding several demonstrators. Some businessmen, encouraged by Moragas, launched a press appeal for aid as it was vital to raise money to compensate the victims and their families. With the money left over, a pension fund would be set up to help workers. The campaign spread quickly and was a success.
The 5th of April 1904 saw the birth of the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez. For more than thirty years, day after day, this savings bank was managed by Francesc Moragas and presided over by Lluís Ferrer-Vidal. Ensuring a decent old age, support for the underprivileged, encouraging people to save, and a passion for a job well done are the key values in Moragas' approach that laid the foundations for the bank's future.
Francesc Moragas announced the first Homage to the Elderly in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, an unprecedented event in the whole world and many countries copied the initiative. Two years later he began the Mothers' Assistance (1917). The following year, in 1918, he started the Foundation's work per se, a huge project aimed at ensuring people could enjoy a decent old age and helping the needy, as well as eradicating diseases. The initiatives came hard and fast after that: the Institute for Working Women (1920), the Surgery Clinic of Santa Madrona (1921), the Home for Women and Sick Children (1922), the Medicine Clinic (1925), the Mother's Clinic (1928), the Shelter of Santa Lucía (1920), the Catalan Institute for the Blind (1921), the Catalan Institute for the Physical Rehabilitation of the Mutilated (1922) and the Institute of Social Services (1929) are just some of the early projects.
In 1920 ”la Caixa” became the country's leading savings bank. The response had been superb and thousands of ordinary people entrusted their savings to the bank. Its pension products became popular and the savings bank grew steadily, at the beginning of the 1930s accounting for 60% of all Catalan savings and 25% of all Spanish savings. During Moragas's lifetime, until 1935, a hundred branches were opened throughout Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Madrid and Andorra.
"I'm the most ambitious man in the world. Not having any needs myself, I have made all the needs of others my own," wrote Moragas in the weekly El Mirador in 1935. That same year, on the 27th of March, at the age of 66, he died in a room of the Surgery Clinic at the Santa Madrona Institute, which he had inaugurated himself. The newspapers were filled with his obituaries and portraits: "A simple, modest man and tireless worker", "He knew how to earn everyone's affection and respect", and his funeral procession attracted thousands of people in the centre of Barcelona.
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