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“La Sagrada Familia” Consecration Nov. 7

October 8th, 2010, Promulgated by Bernie

(Click on photos to see larger images.)

(left) Artist's rendering of completed church; (right) Completion as of 2006

On November 7 this year Pope Benedict XVI, during his journey to Spain, will consecrate and proclaim a basilica the highly unusual Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia (Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) more commonly referred to simply as La Sagrada Familia (Holy Family).

The structure, which has its critics, is considered to be the most masterful of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s (1852-1926) works. Begun in 1882 Gaudi devoted all his attention to it for the last 15 years of his life. He was killed when he fell under the wheels of one of Barcelona’s city buses. At the time he was a pauper. Work continued on the church, interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and by periods of slowdowns due to limited funds. Money has not gone to the project from any government or religious sources. In the beginning, private donations funded the work but now costs are met from the sale of tourist tickets. About 2.26 million people visited the unfinished church in 2004. Tickets now are about $16-17 per adult to enter and visit the site.

Interior vaults/ceilings

The most striking aspect of the church is probably the 18 spires. Symbolism imbues the entire project and so the 18 spires represent, in ascending height, the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Christ. Recent research suggests that Gaudi intended Mary’s spire to be shorter than those of the evangelists. A huge cross will rise from the ‘Christ spire.’ The spires of the four evangelists will be surmounted by their traditional symbols: a bull (St. Luke), a winged man (St. Matthew), an eagle (St. John), and a lion (St. Mark). The lower spires are surmounted by symbols of the Eucharist: carvings of hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes. A multi-pointed round star will sit atop the Mary spire. When complete (perhaps as early as 2017 –more likely 2026 or even later) La Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church in the world. The ‘Christ spire’ will be the tallest spire in the world.

"Nativity Façade"

The church has three elaborate façades (actually, portals or porches –entrances) the Nativity portal on the east side, the Passion portal to the west, and main portal, the Glory, on the south side. The Glory portal is unfinished at this time. The apse -or altar end- is to the north, opposite the main entrance.

In contrast to the highly decorated Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble a skeleton if it were reduced to only bone. Dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion, the façade was intended to portray the sins of man.

The largest and most striking of the facades will be the Glory Façade, which began construction in 2002. It will be the principal façade and will offer access to the central nave. Dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus, it represents the road to God: Death…1

(left) "Passion Façade", far view; (right) Arial view of towers

"Passion Façade" portal sculptures

Wikipedia has a fairly basic description of the church worth a glance if you are interested in more. Other online sources are listed below.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia

Photo sources:

Top photo (“Artist’s Rendering”) in top set: unknown source

“Passion Facade”, far view: unknown source

Aerial view of towers

All others: Bernard Dick

Some online sources:

Good selection of photos and drawings: http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Sagrada_Familia.html

Some brief comments on the building and also a good assortment of photos: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/albums-en/gaudi-sagrada-familia/index.html

Excellent information with photos: http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/spain/barcelona/sagrada/sagrada.html

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3 Responses to ““La Sagrada Familia” Consecration Nov. 7”

  1. avatar Marcus says:

    Thank you very much for this piece! Sagrada Familia is one of my favorite churches in the world. I’m looking forward to its completion in the (relatively) near future.

  2. avatar Ink says:

    *drools*
    THIS is how churches are supposed to look… THIS is how they should be built… THIS IS BEAUTY.

  3. avatar Mike says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but when I saw a photo of these spires for the first time all I could think of were giant anthills.


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