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  • Devotion for Gaudí begins before he is beatified

    More and more people ask to see the tomb of the architect, and leave candles as an offering, so access will be opened to the tomb from the museum

    BARCELONA. - The tomb of the architect Antoni Gaudí, whose diocesan beatification process was authorized by the Vatican in March, is starting to become a center for pilgrimage.

    "We were running into the problem that more and more people were asking to see the tomb of Gaudí, which is in the crypt, which is only opened when there is mass in the parish," explained Jordi Bonet, chief architect of the Temple of the Sagrada Farnília, where Gaudí started working in 1883, and which will be completed in about fifty years.

    In order to keep tourists and pious visitors happy, the specialists have taken advantage of foundation work on one of the columns of the transept to open access from the museum to the posterior area of the crypt. From there, three darkened windows reveal the tomb of the brilliant modernist architect, who passed away in 1936, placed before an image of the Virgen del Carmen.

    In the last year and a half, the interest -almost devotion- of those who visit the crypt, which is being used as a parish for the neighborhood until the temple is finished, has increased. "Now you can see small offerings and burning candles," explained Jordi Bonet, "that the people who visit the parish leave there. It's something new, from the last year and a half. It is not strange to see people there in act of devotion."

    Devotion for Gaudí -private because it cannot be done publicly until the Church beatifies him - is growing. The correspondence sent to parish priest Lluís Bonet, brother of the current architect and vice-postulator of Gaudí's beatification process. "More letters come from Barcelona and, above all, from Latin America," the priest said yesterday, "from people who have seen in Gaudí a man of God in whom one can find an example. Most are asking for employment or a cure for some disease."

    The newsletter of the Associació Pro Beatificació d'Antoni Gaudí (Association For the Beatification of Antoni Gaudí) reproduces some of those letters, sent from Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, in which some Catholics claim to have icons of Gaudí hanging in their bedroom, to feel protected by him, and to have obtained grace through his intercession. Until now, Gaudí's tomb could only be seen coinciding with the parish mass schedule: working days from nine to ten in the morning, and from six to nine in the evening, and weekends, basically in the morning. The access from the museum will be opened on Saturday, the second day of the annual fund-raising program intended to finance the continued construction. There will be petition tables from Friday to Sunday.

    With this fund-raising event, the board of constructors expects to collect about ten million pesetas, based on the average of recent years. This is a token quantity for the magnitude of the project, which last year represented an investment of more than a billion pesetas, proceeding from donations and public subsidies. According to Jordi Bonet, 55% of the edifice has already been built, but it is impossible to estimate the overall cost.

    The museum will also show photographs of Gaudí's burial, which was a great manifestation of public mourning, as well as material from his collaborators, such as Josep Maria Jujol, Doménec Sugranyes, Llorenç Matamala and Isidre Puig i Boada, and scholars on his life and work, such as George R. Collins and J. F. Rafols.

    Naves to be covered for the December 31 Mass

    Cardinal Carles will close the jubilee in the Sagrada Família The naves and part of the transept of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família will be covered by their vaults by the mass that Cardinal Ricard Maria Caries, archbishop of Barcelona, will celebrate mass there on December 31, the last day of this jubilee year.

    "Whatever has not been finished, we will cover with platforms," explained the architect Jordi Bonet, "but if it rains it will be hard to keep people from getting wet." The area has capacity for about five thousand people, many of them standing, but the builders of the temple expect many more to come because the celebration will not be at midnight, like the Midnight Mass, as was mentioned at first, but earlier in the evening. This cardinal's mass will be held to close the jubilee of the year 2000, and at the same time to commemorate the Day of the Sacred Family ('Sagrada Familia' means 'Sacred Family' in Spanish), which falls this year on Sunday December 31. The Day of the Sacred Family is always celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas.

    La Vanguardia
    Wednesday, May 31, 2000

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