I have been in Barcelona for a few days.

Today I saw this.


Of this building, Benedict XVI said, on the day he consecrated it (HERE):

In this place, Gaudí desired to unify that inspiration which came to him from the three books which nourished him as a man, as a believer and as an architect: the book of nature, the book of sacred Scripture and the book of the liturgy. In this way he brought together the reality of the world and the history of salvation, as recounted in the Bible and made present in the liturgy. He made stones, trees and human life part of the church so that all creation might come together in praise of God, but at the same time he brought the sacred images outside so as to place before people the mystery of God revealed in the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this way, he brilliantly helped to build our human consciousness, anchored in the world yet open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ. In this he accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty. Antoni Gaudí did this not with words but with stones, lines, planes, and points. Indeed, beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness.

We have dedicated this sacred space to God, who revealed and gave himself to us in Christ so as to be definitively God among men. The revealed Word, the humanity of Christ and his Church are the three supreme expressions of his self-manifestation and self-giving to mankind. As says Saint Paul in the second reading: “Let each man take care how he builds. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:10-11). The Lord Jesus is the stone which supports the weight of the world, which maintains the cohesion of the Church and brings together in ultimate unity all the achievements of mankind. In him, we have God’s word and presence and from him the Church receives her life, her teaching and her mission. The Church of herself is nothing; she is called to be the sign and instrument of Christ, in pure docility to his authority and in total service to his mandate. The one Christ is the foundation of the one Church. He is the rock on which our faith is built.


Time to head home.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Traductora says:

    I don’t know how the cause for the canonization of Gaudi is moving ahead, but he certainly seems like a good candidate. Catalan nationalists have tried to coopt his memory, and while, like all other artists of his time, he was involved in a sort of romantic, back-to-the-land and (nonexistent) medievalist nationalism, he always kept God and Our Lord foremost and this is why that building is so amazingly beautiful.

    I’ve watched it going up over the decades, and I wasn’t happy with the choice of the sculptor who “finished” the porticos, because he was part of the post-VII “faceless” school of religious art. And one thing that Gaudi was not was “faceless” – the Incarnation, expressed in is two poles of the humanity of the Holy Family on the one hand and God-directed scale and scope of the entire space on the other, was Gaudi’s “all.”

  2. pseudomodo says:

    ANTONI GAUDÍ CORNET is hopefully in line for Beatification.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    Ah, the Sagrada Familia, that most mathematical of cathedrals, exhibiting ruled surfaces, hyperboloids, paraboloids, helicoids, ellipsoids, conoids. 2-minute videos for the geometrically inclined:

  4. CradleRevert says:

    I find the Sagrada Familia fascinating. I don’t know that it’s architecturally my cup of tea, but I think it clearly was designed with the proper orientation of worship in mind. It’s a perfectly legitimate example of modern art which is still organically tied to its past.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    Were it not for the fact economy class seats and me don’t agree with each other on the proper dimensions of the human body, I’d hop over to Barcelona every other year or so to see the progress.

    The Sagrada Familia is stunning, but the construction effort is too. 12 years ago or so, there basically was not much more than the towers and facades – and no roof; now it’s completed enough to celebrate Mass. And all funded by donations. Truely a beacon of hope in Spain. (though don’t use that last word in the presence of the locals…)

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    I have seen quite a few photos of the interior of the Sagrada Familia, but none that captured the gorgeous light from the stained glass windows as Father Z has with his new camera. I wonder how recently these windows were installed.

  7. anna 6 says:

    I am blown away by those wonderful photos!
    The homily was inspired. I remember that after the consecration of the cathedral, Fr. Lombardi claimed that it was one of the “most joyful moments in (B16’s) life”. He spoke about sacred art with great authority and elegance.
    Miss him…safe travels!

  8. trespinos says:

    Stunning … the building and its art, of course. But also Benedict XVI’s words — such depth of insight, such clarity of expression. He has no equal.

  9. tgarcia2 says:

    Wonderful documentary on netflex (if it’s still on there) called “Sagrada”. Tells the history behind the building and its current construction.

  10. anna 6 says:

    I once heard a wonderful talk by Etsuro Sotoo, a Japanese sculptor whose works are located in the Sagrada Família. He was so strongly influenced by Antoni Gaudí that immersing himself in the master’s work and philosophy led him to convert to Catholicism.

  11. Maltese says:

    A Japanese stone mason converted to Catholicism after working on this beautiful Cathedral. We must keep in mind that Gaudi prayed the Traditional Latin Mass (nearly daily) while he worked on this masterpiece, which took 131 years to complete. Other magnificent Cathedrals (i.e. Chartres) took many centuries to build. They were build to house the unbloody Sacrifice of our Lord.

  12. robtbrown says:

    The pastel hues remind me more of the Castle of the Wizard of Oz than Chartres Cathedral.

    [Now that Chartres is being cleaned, what colors remind you of Chartres?]

  13. Elizium23 says:

    It is worth noting that this is not a Cathedral, but a designated Minor Basilica. The Cathedral of St. Eulalia in Barcelona is also quite beautiful but not as massive. It is quite a shame that these and other churches in Catalonia will be empty and crumbling in the decades to come. Catalonia is the “most European” part of Spain, and as such, there is rampant atheism, liberalism, and indifferentism, embodied by the ultra-liberal dissenting Sister Teresa Forcades i Vila who recently granted an interview in which she started out by professing a right to life and quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict but then devolved into a rant about “self-determination” being the ultimate good when deciding whether abortion is right.

    I visited Catalonia in 2008. I heard Mass in the Sagrada Família, albeit in a rather plain side chapel before the main altar was consecrated. My fiancée was a convert to Catholicism and epitomized the liberal Catalan nationalist type. She called me an extremist because I oppose abortion. She had nothing good to say about priests or bishops in the Catholic Church. I was appalled when her veneer of faith and love was scratched away to reveal a vindictive and hateful interior. But enough about my personal relationship. I had a rather mixed blessing with my stay in Spain. We saw many beautiful churches and sights. It was arguably the experience of a lifetime for me. Who knows when I will make another pilgrimage to Europe, I may as well cherish the one I did get.

  14. jflare says:

    Um, I will hope that I simply have a poor impression.
    My first thought was that…someone had allowed Willy Wonka to run wild in the cathedral for a few days. …Creative and requiring one to re-evaluate expectations a lot perhaps. Even prone to inspire…shock, awe, and wonder, in a weird way. …Not exactly my idea of marvelous and reverent though.

    [Have you been inside Sagrada Familia?]

  15. pseudomodo says:


    Except in this case we all must pay attention to the (Son of) Man behind the curtain!

  16. Sri_Sriracha says:

    I am in awe of this place- truly sets the standard for modern church architecture that is rooted in tradition, yet opens up new pathways for creativity and organic development.

  17. Gratias says:

    Sorry, it seems gaudy to me.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Sri_Sriracha says:

    I am in awe of this place- truly sets the standard for modern church architecture that is rooted in tradition, yet opens up new pathways for creativity and organic development.

    My #1 for a contemporary church continues to be the Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy; its architect was inspired by La Sainte Chapelle

    Some day I’ll visit Barcelona and perhaps there will be a new #1.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Fr Z,

    Excepting the unmatched colors of the windows: Public Pool White.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Gratias says:

    Sorry, it seems Gaudi to me.


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