Antoni Gaudí’s Masterpiece

In this week’s “Word from Rome”, John Allen Jr. writes of the Sagrada Familia, a monster cathedral “whose construction began in the late 19th century and is not expected to be complete for perhaps another 50 years.”

The Sagrada Familia is the brainchild of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852-1926), whose cause for beatification is currently underway. In 1915, the papal nuncio in Spain called Gaudí “the Dante of architecture.”

Every detail has theological significance, so that the Sagrada Familia is a sort of Summa Theologica in stone. Its effect can be overwhelming. A Japanese sculptor named Etsuro Sotoo, for example, converted to Catholicism from Shintoism after spending time in Barcelona studying Gaudí’s work. A Japanese architect, Kenji Imai, similarly converted to Catholicism after spending time at the Sagrada Familia.

If the beatification cause succeeds, Gaudí would be one of the few laymen raised to the altar for something other than martyrdom. Local supporters see him as on a par with Robert Schumann as a lay Catholic who has helped shape modern Europe, in Gaudí’s case through architecture rather than politics.

Imagine that — religious architecture so outstanding it could inspire spiritual conversion to Catholicism in those who beheld it.

Call me jaded, but I have a difficult time imagining this having a similar effect. 😉

Related Links:

  • Gaudi’s Glory Day. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is “virtually” completed, by Michael S. Rose. Apr. 05, 2003.
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