Beauty will save the world: Gaudi's basilica inspires conversions

First, before the article, a video antipasto :) :

Now, from CNS:

Beauty will save the world – Gaudi's basilica inspires conversions
By Elise Harris and Alan Holdren

Barcelona, Spain, Apr 30, 2015 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Though the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi died nearly 90 years ago and his best-known work remains under construction, the beauty of the Sagrada Familia basilica continues to draw people to Christ.

“Almost nothing leads us to the divine, but then people go there,” said José Manuel Almuzara Pérez, reflecting on the awe inspired in those who visit the Sagrada Familia.

Almuzara told CNA April 18 that “Even the other day someone said to me: 'Jose Manuel, I'm an atheist, what is happening to me?'”

The atheist who spoke to him, Almuzara said, “was thrilled, and didn’t know how to explain what he felt. He was moved, at 70 or 75 years old, looking up at this wonder of architecture which lifts you upward.”

Almuzara heads the Association for the Beatification of Antoni Gaudi. Originally started as a small group of laymen with a tiny budget, the association decided to investigate the possibility in of Gaudi’s sainthood in 1992; the cause for his canonization was officially opened in Rome in 2003.

Since opening of his cause, letters have poured in from all over the world attributing graces, favors, and miracles to Gaudí’s intercession, Almuzara said, noting that the atheist he spoke with is not the only one who has experienced a feeling of awe after seeing the Sagrada Familia.

Perhaps the most impressive conversion he’s seen worked through the beauty of the basilica is that of a Buddhist sent by the South Korean government in 1998 to study Gaudi's work in Barcelona, in preparation for an exhibition on the architect.

Given only one week to complete his work, the man wrote a letter to the association several months later revealing that he was converting to Catholicism.

This man, Almuzara said, “came to Barcelona a Buddhist, a practicing one, and returned to his country wanting to be Catholic.

"What happened in Barcelona?"

In his letter, the man said that after studying Gaudí’s designs, particularly the Sagrada Familia, “he discovered the divine that is present in Gaudi’s work; and seeing and admiring his work, he discovered the existence of God.”

After returning to South Korea, the man sought formal lessons in catechesis to build upon his experience in Barcelona, and afterward entered the Church.

Gaudi was born in 1852 in Spain's autonomous community of Catalonia. He was a devout Catholic, which together with forms drawn from nature greatly influenced his architecture; he has received the nickname “God’s architect” due to the emphasis he placed on religion in his works.

He began his work on the Sagrada Familia in 1883, and in 1914 stopped all other projects to work exclusively on the masterpiece, to which he dedicated himself until his death in 1926.

The church was consecrated by Benedict XVI in 2010, and named a basilica. Still under construction, it is expected to be completed by 2026, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death.

Gaudí is still alive through his architecture, Almuzara said, who spoke of the artist’s commitment to doing beautiful things in his work.

“This is Gaudí, great amongst the great, but humble … a simple man,” he said, explaining that these qualities are what made him want to promote the architect’s cause for beatification.

“Why can’t this person be a teacher, a saint, who guides us, who makes us see? Not just architects, but artists in general, he can teach us in our daily life to adapt to the difficult circumstances.”

The association have previously expressed their hope that Gaudí could be beatified in June 2016, following their presentation of a 1,200 page portfolio on the architect in Rome in 2011. Gaudi's cause was also supported by Cardinal Ricardo Carles Gordo, who was Archbishop of Barcelona from 1990 to 2004.

Although no miracles have yet been formally acknowledged by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as having been worked through Gaudi's intercession, the portfolio included two possibilities.

One is the cure of a Spaniard from Canet de Mar who suffered from stomach ulcers, and the second is the case of a woman from the town of Reus who lost her sight but later regained it after praying through Gaudi's intercession.

The Basilica's website:  There are sections on History, Symbology, Images, etc. In the Symbology section, click on a picture and more detail pops up.

In its original form yes, probably the most beautiful basilica in the world, but not now, with its altar of sacrifice replaced by a table that one has a meal on. An analagy would be 'what if you gain all the treasurers of the world but lose your soul.'  Having lived through times of packed churches in the 1950s and seen the exit with the introduction of the table, and the total demise of Catholic faith in the 2000s, with the loss of millions of souls, I for one cannot see how this beauty, which I visited some 15 years ago, will save the world.
It's a beautiful . . .  termite mound.

[Image: termiteskyscraper.jpg]

[Image: termite_mound.jpg]

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I have to agree, it's a butt ugly Basilica, like something out of nightmare before Christmas meets Vatican II.
Wow, those termites did a good imitation of Gaudi!  :LOL:

I do like the inside though.  It has a gothic spirit but uses modern mathematics.  It's fun to think about what would have happened if Gaudi's version of modernist architecture had caught on and been gradually refined into something more elegant.  We'd have something a lot more interesting than the standard utilitarian spaceship churches that abound today.

[Image: 1024px-Sagrada_Familia_nave_roof_detail.jpg]
what an amazing feat of engineering .. and design here is a virtual tour URL
I couldn't agree less with the title. Maybe Gaudi's original design would have inspired piety, buy certainly not the actual current building, which is nothing more than an architectural divertimento and a new age festival.

Gaudi could only finish the crypt and one of the facades (the Nativity) before his death. Though gothic in modern key, they both convey a simple, strong, beautiful and pious message, which can surely inspire faith and conversion. Gaudi himself was a very pious man (there is a beatification process underway), who worked hardly and humbly under a picture of Saint Pious X in his office (he actually lived there). Not surprise that his attelier with all his documentation, maquettes, etc was assaulted and burnt by the republican hordes during the Spanish Civil War (several of his collaborators in the building were killed then, including the priest that had been his confessor). God spared him from witnessing this savagery as he died several years before the republic and the war. Today the Catalonian nationalists try to hide this central aspect of Gaudi's life, ignoring his devout Catholic nature and depicting him as a modern-day Catalanist, which he never was.

After the Civil War and through the 50's, the project hardly advanced. But in the 60's it took pace and it was gradually (and sadly) changed into as new age, catalanistic flagship; into a divertimento, with hardly any visible Catholic impronta. The facade of the Passion is a mixture of sci-fi, stalinism and occultism. The interior is just revolting; a deification of the forms of nature, some sort of gaia-cult, and -everywhere- references to Catlonian nationalism. Not a surprise considering than several of the recent directors of the project have been openly atheists or communists (e.g. Sabiranch). New age music is heard through loudspeakers (Enya may be a Catholi herself, but her music is misplaced in a temple!). There is a small oratorium behind the main altar; it even has a tabernacle with the sanctissimo within, but the place is such that to my suprise I saw people doing yoga-style things there (no clue what it actually was; maybe Buddhist or Fulan-gong stuff). Well, maybe I shouldn't have been that suprised... as you may guess there were no reclinatories, no sacred images (even a cross was hard to tell), new age music, etc....
Today the Spanish Ministry of Tourism (or however the entity is called) boasts about the importance of temple. I think is has none. It is a shame for Gaudi's memory and a source of perversion rather than conversion. The World, on the other hand, loves it...

I don't want to be unfair or unnecessarily harsh, but the above description is pale compared to what I actually saw when I visited the temple a couple of years ago. I went with my wife for honeymoon and we were overwhelmed with sadness.

The decay of Spain, especially of Barcelona, is a brutal reminder of Corruptio optimi pessima

Please pray for Gaudi and for the re-conversion of the Spanish people (especially the Catalonians).

The Sagrada Familia, as Clare aptly describes, is as beautiful as a termite mound. I would make an exception to the Nativity Facade of course but the rest is a disaster.

The other day I was rereading Thomas Merton's journal The Sign of Jonas and on page 87 he writes something interesting and challenging about Catholic architecture that I felt like sharing. What he says is a challenge. How can we build something today that is not just a dead relic of the past or modernistic junk that actually speaks the language of the Faith? It's not so easy I think. In the second page of this journal entry of his he goes on to say that the men of previous ages, say, the 12 th century Cistercians, lived in an age that was permeated by the Faith. I suppose this made it easier. We can look at the homely English churches of the dark ages, the stark yet beautiful monasteries of the 12 th Century Cistercians, the later Gothic style, the Byzantine or the Baroque and still see basically the same Faith shining forth in the architecture; the same cannot be said for most modern churches, especially this Sagrada monstrosity.

Honestly, how do we approach Catholic architecture today without being entirely enslaved to the past yet somehow being faithful to the content of our religion and our heritage? I have no answer here, but I somehow feel like this Cathedral being discussed is missing something essential.

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Here's the second part of the journal, the file was too large for one post.

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