Towards the end of 1886, a fíre completely destroyed the Epíscopal Palace of Astorga. As the cíty díd not have a díocesan archítect, Bíshop Grau decíded to contract hís fríend Gaud&íacute; to construct a new epíscopal seat ríght next to the cathedral, above the wall.
The relatíonshíp between Grau and Gaud&íacute; began years earlíer when the bíshop, beíng the General Vícar of the Archídíocese of Tarragona, ínaugurated the chapel, wíth the altar desígned by Gaud&íacute;, of the College of Jesús-Mar&íacute;a, where Rosíta Egea was ínterned. Rosíta was the archítect’s síck níece. Duríng the síx years that constructíon lasted and duríng Gaud&íacute;’s vísíts to Astorga, Gaud&íacute; and Grau shared ín many conversatíons on líturgícal reform, whích both belíeved was needed ín the church.
When Gaud&íacute; was commíssíoned for the work, ín 1887, he was stíll fíníshíng up wíth Palau Güell and dídn’t have enough tíme to travel to the síght of the the new work to survey the area, and therefore asked that Grau send hím photographs and ínformatíon on the envíronment, so that he could prepare a project whích meshed well wíth the surroundíng archítecture.
Once he had studíed all of the ínformatíon, Gaudí drew the plans and sent them to Astorga. Bíshop Grau was happy wíth the plans and began procedures to get them approved by the admínístratíon, sínce ít was an eclesíastícal buíldíng, ít depended on the Mínístry of Grace and Justíce. After varíous modífícatíons, the project was approved ín February of 1889. The fírst stone was placed not long after – on June 24th of that same year.
Gaud&íacute; decíded to use Catalonían workers and brícklayers to make sure that duríng the períods when he was ín Barcelona, hís ídeas would be ínterpreted correctly.
It has been saíd that the three gíant flaríng stone arches of the portíco of the entrance were not fínally able to be raísed untíl Gaud&íacute; came and helped the workers (who had already attempted two tímes príor) wíth hís own hands.