The Supervising Architect of the Sagrada Familia, Jordi Bonet, today confirmed that the temple will be ready this coming autumn to receive Benedict XVI, should the Pope finally decide to travel to Barcelona to consecrate Gaudí’s work, which will thereby become open to the worship of the faithful.
"Undoubtedly, we would very much like the Pope to come”, said Bonet on a visit to the Temple, where he reiterated that “the building work is very advanced and if he comes in November, fantastic, it will easily be ready by that date, without rushing and without any problems”.
The Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach, today confirmed that Benedict XVI is very interested in travelling to the Catalan capital to consecrate the temple.
If the Pope were ultimately to come to Barcelona he would find the whole temple enclosed – not just the central nave - but 4,500 square metres of space which could accommodate between 9.000 and 10.000 of the faithful.
Amongst the actions required to prepare the area is the removal of the enormous scaffolding, the laying of the pavement (of porphyry and stone, which will form a huge mosaic with the initials of the Sacred Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph), the baldachin, as well as work on the chancel seating, with capacity for three hundred clergymen.
At this time, the vault covering the apse at some 75 metres height is enclosed, although protection from the rain still remains to be finalised. "We have a little way to go, around 1,5 to 2% of it to have it fully enclosed, something necessary for worshippers to enter”, emphasized the architect.
Bonet calculated that in September, the temple, where 150 workers currently toil, may be ready, “but if it is before then the organ will not be in situ as it is being manufactured, but we will sort it out if the Pope does come before then”.
In statements to Efe, the architect did not want to give an exact date for the definitive conclusion of the temple, as it all depends, he said, on the technological advances that permit the construction on the transept, at 66 metres height, of the great metal and glass cross which will tower up to 170 metres (and which Gaudí left in a scale model in plaster).
"Lifting materials up to 150 metres is expensive, and that will slow down the building work, warned the veteran head of the project, who “at the earliest” places completion of the Sagrada Familia in 2020, "and if it happens before, it will be due to an improvement in technology".
Bonet also referred to the visit made a few days ago by members of UNESCO to check on the impact of the construction of the AVE tunnel under the Sagrada Familia, which will pass just a few metres from the facade, and which has obliged the Infrastructure Manager Adife to use a wall of pillars to protect the foundations.
The architect emphasized that the UNESCO delegation were surprised by “how close the tunnel passed” to the facade and made clear that there was no such thing as zero risk.
Bonet reiterated that the administration had committed to discontinue the construction of the wall until they had prepared a series of reports on the effect of the wall, but that the work continues.