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The Gaudí’s 120th anniversary at the head of the Sagrada Familia

Gaudí, much more than a Genius

The Nativty Nativty façade is masterpiece made with the help of all the harmonic resonances. In front of it, Federico García Lorca told me that he heard uproars, a row of sonorous yell so loud that they become more and more strong. They resulted increasingly more strident in the way the façade soars towards the sky, until they mix with the ones of the trumpets of the angels in such a glorious clamour that he never could stand it for a long time.

(Salvador Dalí, Foreword to La visión artistique et religieuse de Gaudí, from C.Prévost y R. Descharnes, 1969)

Antoni Gaudí Cornet assumed the project and the leading of the Sagrada Familia Temple works the 3rd November 1883, 120 years ago.

A fact, a very important event for the architect, for Barcelona and Catalonia, for the Church, for me and maybe for you.

Some years before, Josep Mª Bocabella i Verdaguer, a bookseller, founded the 1st of October 1866 the Devouts of Saint Joseph Spiritual Association, also published a bulletin, and collected donations to raise a Temple.

The members of this Association were 500.000 in 1878 (nearly as many people as the inhabitants of Catalonia; and more than twice the population of Barcelona).

The 31st December 1881 Bocabella purchased for 1.033 euros the plot where the Sagrada Familia Temple at works is presently located.

The 19th of March 1882 the foundation stone of the Temple was laid, which was projected by the architect Francesc de Paula del Villar. In the foundational act, among other things, could be read:

"The foundation stone of this expiatory church has been laid.
Let this work be to the greatest honour and glory of the Holy Family.
Awake from their lukewarmness the sleeping hearts. Leit it exalt Faith. Give warmth to Charity..."

Gaudí picked up the purpose of the commission from the very start, being it summarised in the words chosen previously with the occasion of the laying of its foundation stone.

Gaudí worked in the Temple from 1883 until 1926, the year he died. More than 42 years devoted to the building of majestic work, because of its dimensions, its forms, its symbols, by means of which Gaudí transmits us all his human and divine wisdom, the fruit of a thorough study, of work, sacrifice and prayer. And so it is.

"The Sagrada Familia Temple is expiatory. This means that it must be nourished from sacrifices; if it could not be nourished from them it would be a censurable work and it would not be finished. The word expiatory is the one which provokes feelings of indignation in the sectarians..." commented Gaudí.

Because of my taking part, since 1992, in the Association promoting the beatifying of Antoni Gaudí I’ve been able to confirm in many occasions that the work of the Temple awakes hearts, exalts faith and inflames charity. In studying the works and thought of Gaudí, the documents and the witnesses about his life and behaviour, the ones who help us about his life and opinions are legion.

Some other people may be attracted by politicians, artists, sportmen or religious people, I believe that Gaudí is worth to be taken as a model, a man with a life in faith and culture, an example for the XXI century:

"His fondness harmonic for nature and the environment,...the divine breath, which beats in his works,... he is an evangelist of God in the world, at the same time than a great architect" (Yun Young-Joo, manager of the Board of Commerce and Industry from Pusan, Korea).

In these recent years of multiple exhibitions, lectures, publishings, about the figure del insigne architect, I believe that this is the moment to discover, highlighth, deepen on, in the direction which Gaudí show us, it is a great opportunity and we are lucky to have him so close.

Gaudí teaches us that: the Pedrera is a pedestal which has to support a sculptoric group not carried out; the Casa Batlló elevates us to the harmony between human (the roof ridge packed with jugs) and the divine (the cross ending). The Sagrada Familia is a Temple under construction being promoted by the archbishophric of Barcelona, with the donations and sacrifices of many. The Sagrada Familia parish school has in its ground plan the projection of three intrelaced hearts, representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph (this was discovered by the late architect Francesc de Paula Cardoner).

They have informed and explained the Gaudí’s architecture, his contribution to construction, design, and fashion. Gaudí is far more than this, it is time now to discover his internal power, his love.

"Life is a battle, strength is required to fight and strength is virtue, which only is preserved and increased with the spiritual cultivation, that is, with the religious religious practice ".

"The architect is a ruler in the highest sense of the word, for he doesn’t find an already done constitution, but he does it. Because of this, the great rulers are called builders of peoples".

Gaudí directed personally all the works, even the building labourer’s manoeuvres. His organization methods raised the curiosity and his colleagues in the city started criticising him for wishing to be singular:

"Work –he commented- is the fruit of collaboration, and this can only be based in love. The architect must get profit of what the workers can do and of what may do. The most outstanding ability of every one must be exploited. That is: to integrate, to sum all efforts and to tenderles la mano cuando se encallen; this way they work with pleasure and with the certainty given by the full confidence in the organiser.

Besides, it must be remembered that there is anybody useless, everybody is useful (although not all them with the very capacity); the question is to find the ability for each one".

It is more than eleven years since we proposed, four professionals and a priest, the beatifying of Gaudí, somewhat which many others had already said, thought and painted formerly. The process is officially open in Rome, since last 9 of July, where the validity of the documents submitted is being studied. Many people do have the private devotion to the distinguished architect, the ones being interested to receive some help, either material or spiritual, to know him.

At the beginnings of October I took part in Lima in the "Internacional Meeting, Gaudí: the God’s architect "; during the three days the event lasted, an average of 1.800 people assisted to it, most of them students of architecture, professors and architects.

In the platform, in facing those hundreds of people, I thought in the greatness of Gaudí. In his decision to accept the commission of the Sagrada Familia works, just 120 years ago, and his sacrifice. And to have made me possible to be there, trying to bring a little of his life and work to all those people, who wish to know, to know about and share, his love and his architecture.

As a witness of the wealth done by Gaudí, I received the day after the finishing the event, an e-mail from a person who took part in it, an architect from Lima, who, among other things, told me what follows:

"Just now I realise that Gaudí did not remain at the service of the fellow man, looking after or caring them well. His love for God (and to the fellow man) he manifested it in his works following the laws of nature as a divine work by Him and putting a lot of love in what he did...

This meeting has meant a lot for me, more than I imagined. It has been an invitation to the research of myself to meet God (again). Life consists in so. Isn’t it?".

José Manuel Almuzara Pérez
President of the Antoni Gaudí Pro-Beatifying Association


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