By Ana María Férrin
Antonio Gaudí's custom in his night trip back to the Sagrada Familia
placed him in the tramway stop in the Urquinaona square of Barcelona around
21.45. Always methodical he went to the kiosk, bought his customary newspaper,
La Veu de Catalunya, sometimes he also bought a cake and alternating reading
and biting the cake he did his way that led to his destination about ten
o'clock at night.
But on June, 7th 1926 it was
22.30 and the routine suffered an upset. Since the previous October, the
Temple keeper's wife was charged of the meals and the cleaning of his
studio, at that time also converted in the home of the Catalan architect.
The couple waited him for dinner and his delay made them to worry.
- Maybe he's talking with father
Gil Parés -they told to themselves, not with a lot of conviction.
A growing nervousness rushed
the employee towards the priest's home, placed at the other edge of the
works site beside the office of Gaudí . It must be so, they will
have met and chatting, chatting... He tried to distract his worrying with
this idea, because somewhat told him that for such an oversensitive punctual
person the simple supposition of a delay was out of place.
Father Parés was surprised
by the warden's visit and agreed with his alarm. Had he delayed, only
with a tramway breakdown or an accident could be the cause. Or another
seizure, and came to his mind the one suffered by Gaudí the 11th
of September, 1924, when he did not want to talk to the policemen in Spanish.
They decided to wait for a
short space of time after which father decided to wait for Gaudí
would finally appear, and he sent the worker in a taxi to go over all
the first-aid posts that dotted the architect's usual way. In the second
dispensary he visited, in the Ronda de San Pedro, n. 37, they remembered
to have attended about seven o'clock in the afternoon the victim of a
- No, they did not know his
name (the registration data were written later) ... He was brought by
Ramón Pérez Vázquez, the policeman who helped him...Yes,
yes, he was an old man...Yes, he had the appearance of a beggar, he was
white bearded, he was severely wounded and they sent him to the Clinic
Hospital...!Ah! He brought the Gospels in a pocket.
The envoy went back to the
Sagrada Familia with the certainty that the appearance he had gathered
was beyond doubt. Father Parés agreed with him and they parted
in the very taxi, that retook the way to fetch in route Gaudí's
assistant, Doménech Sugranyes. They headed both to the Clinic Hospital
to receive an alarming first impression. In the admission they told them
that they had not admitted any wounded man. There was only an entry, who
was a male deceased.
Their hopes of finding him alive vanished. Even so, the possibility of
an error opened in their minds making them to last effort to do the last
- We want to see the deceased
man- they insisted.
It was about eleven o'clock
and the watchman, reluctantly, accompanied them to the morgue. There,
over a marble table in the autopsy room, lay a dead body covered by a
white cloth. It was father Gil who unveiled the face of the corpse to
discover that it wasn't Gaudí. The two men's joy was short to lead
then to anguish: if he had not reached his destination, ¿where
could he be? The very male nurse who had led them to the morgue pointed
for another possibility.
- You must recall the first-aid
post. Maybe there has arisen a mishap.
But the call did not cast any
light. They insisted that the wounded had departed towards the Clinic
Hospital, these were the only data they could give them. The watchman
from the Clinic encouraged them again with a new suggestion:
- The other destination for
the traumatic injured is the Saint Cross Hospital. May be he's been admitted
Circa midnight it stopped facing
the façade wing of the hospital, in the homonym street, the taxi
that brought the two friends in his anguished search. Once in the court,
when they entered the precinct devoted to male patients, sited in the
right wing of the building, the question was made once more:
- ¿Has been brought
here the architect Antoni Gaudí, who has been ran over?
No, nobody knows anything. The scene looked like the copy of the one in
the first hospital. The paradox of a professional so trustworthy would
exhaust his last breath of life shaking among the bureaucratic inefficiency
made that the sadness felt by father Parés gave way to a burst
of energy. He demanded the doctor on duty to come, doctor Joan Prim Rossell,
who answered to his questions:
the architect? No he is not here. Had he entered everything would be upset
and packed with journalists. And, of course, I would have been aware of
The priest's patience had reached
its peak and he could stand no more. He put his voice tone to the height
of circumstances, nearly shouting him:
- ¡Of course he is here!
He is here, but you have not even noticed it. Check it at once, please!
The firmness with which father
Parés demanded the confirmation of the answer made the doctor doubt.
After all it wasn't his responsibility; the entering hour corresponded
to the previous turn and he had not yet paid visit to the sections. Gaudí
wasn't listed in the registration book as an admission, but the hospital
was sited in a dock zone with a lot of people frequently injured because
of robberies and quarrels and the amount of emergencies was plentiful.
In this context the quick admission of a serious injured man could have
passed completely unnoticed.
A consult to the nuns who attended to the ill informed them that effectively,
about eight o'clock in the afternoon, an ambulance had brought the victim
of a running over. A very old man, probably a beggar. He was installed
in the bed n. 19 in the Saint Thomas' hall, where the traumatic injured
were looked after. The nun added:
- He had his clothes fastened
with safety pins.
The two men glanced to themselves:
there was no need of more data to hurry up with the doctor in the search
of the patient. The more they entered in the corridors, the noise of the
quarter was deadened in a mixture of prayers, sighs, aches and medicines
converted in smells that floated all around the penumbra of the hall.
The whiteness of sheets and blankets, the white habits of the Saint Cross
nuns who moved along the four rows of beds.
Here he was, in the bed number
19, reside the 18th, where the beggar who had been the source of inspiration
for Gaudí for the death of the Honest man who had died some years
ago comforted by the charity of the architect. Unconscious with the head
of his bed placed just under the Station of the Cross showing Jesus carrying
the cross, Antonio Gaudí did not identify the newly arrived nor
his appearance made them infer that he had not been given a lot of care.
His condition seemed to be very serious and doctor Prim corroborated so
after exploring him for first time. They left him being attended by the
physician, but when they abandoned the hospital sorrow had seized the
visitors' souls. The moon set in the quarter and dressed white the well
and the exquisite baroque cross. Father Parés looked at his watch.
It was then the early morning of the 8th of June.