La Sacrada Familia to be consecrated by the Pope?


I was a fan of Alan Parsons when I was younger (still am sort of). It was their Gaudi album and the title song about the Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia which first drew me to this incredible work by the Spanish architect.

According this Zenit story, the Archbishop of Barcelona has invited Pope Benedict to consecrate the Cathedral “before it is opened for use”.

A couple of things spring to mind immediately:

1) I am astounded that the building is still not being used for worship! Gaudi started work on it in 1883, and it was still uncompleted when he died in 1926. Apparently work restarted in 1952 and current projection for completion is the late 2020’s. But this news must indicate that it is almost ready for use even in its incomplete state, given that they are asking the current pontiff (who, baring a miracle, will not be around in the 2020’s) to consecrate it.

2) Benedict is heading to Spain for the Madrid World Youth Day next year. Perhaps he could do the job then?

To get an idea of this incredible building, take a look at this 3-D virtual view on Youtube:

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “La Sacrada Familia to be consecrated by the Pope?

  1. Peregrinus

    Coincidentally, I was there last month. The nave, crossing and chancel are completely occupied with scaffolding, building equipment and teams of builders. Currently visitors can pass along the south aisle, into the south transept (part only) and then out by a door where the south transept joins the chancel. As far as the church itself goes, that’s it. There’s good access to the towers, wall spaces, crypt and parts of the cloister. I have been there in previous years when there was more access to the church proper. I guess it depends what phase of the work is in hand.

    From memory, work proceeded very slowly because of the decision to remain faithful to the original concept of building the entire church in cut stone. A few years back, the pace of work picked up rapidly because the decision was taken to work in concrete, faced with stone, with the result that the completion date has moved forward to about 2026. (Gaudi himself projected a construction period of several hundred years, given the stone fabric and the construction methods of his day). As a result the main part of the building has now been largely roofed, and from what I could see the reason the nave is currently blocked by scaffolding seems to be that the tilers are at work, fixing mosaic to the ceiling. I suppose that’s something that might be completed fairly quickly, though, so the nave might be available soon.

    The central tower is unfinished – pretty well unstarted, in fact. As you can see from the video, it’s to be higher and wider than any of the towers you can see today, so there’s still a fair bit of work to be done.

    The only part that could possibly be used for worship at present is the crypt, which currently contains a museum. It consists of a series of interlinked spaced joined to form what are in effect corridors. I don’t think it would make a good worship space without some serious remodelling. Plus, entry fees to the museum are part of what finances the building of the church, so I can’t see them giving it up too readily.

    When the church is finished, it’s going to look bizarre – like a 1930s vision of what the church of 2050 would look like. I love it, but I think a lot of people won’t. If you like your churches gothic, this is not the church for you.

    I can’t help feeling that the truly great thing about this project may not be the finished church, but rather the epic story of its construction. There is actually a view that the church should be left unfinished at the point where Gaudi’s sketches and models – which are incomplete – run out. The church, finished to that point, would be functional.

  2. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I thought Gaudi’s blueprints were destroyed in the Civil War, which would make the final result sort of a gaudi-um et spes.

    Btw does Benedict speak Catalan? I used to love to listen to the Catalan news show rebroadcast here to see how much or little I could understand (being a Spanish speaker). Then the miserable cable company removed the channel rebroadcasting news shows from around the world.

    • Peregrinus

      I thought Gaudi’s blueprints were destroyed in the Civil War, which would make the final result sort of a gaudi-um et spes.

      It’s worse than that. He didn’t make any blueprints. He made sketched, which he then worked up into models. Craftsmen worked from the models, working out for themselves what the required dimensions were. (The models were not to any set scale.)

      Some of the models were destroyed in the war, but some of the destroyed models related to work already completed, and there were sketches avialable for some of the other models. There are still some blanks to be filled in, for things for which there is neither model not sketch.

      Btw does Benedict speak Catalan? I used to love to listen to the Catalan news show rebroadcast here to see how much or little I could understand (being a Spanish speaker). Then the miserable cable company removed the channel rebroadcasting news shows from around the world.

      Catalan, from my impressionistic observations, is closer to French than to Spanish. Benedict speaks French very well – better than English, in fact – and of course he speaks Italian. I myself found that a mixture of Italian and French gets you by quite well in Barcelona, so my hunch is that he is well-placed to master at least basic touristic Catalan, such as a travelling pontiff might require. (“How much is this plaster reproduction of the infant Samuel at prayer? That is too much; have you anything cheaper? Are there any jellyfish here, or dangerous currents? Bless you, my child.”)

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        I don’t know a thing about Catalan. Listening to it for me is a lot like listening to Portuguese or Southern Italian dialects — about the time I think I’m actually catching some of it, it goes off and does something totally different.

        My time in Spain was completely in Madrid. When I watched la boda real (Felipe y Letizia) some years ago, my thought was Judas H Priest, when I was there Franco was still in power!

        Which reminds me, will SM El Rey Don Juan Carlos, the greatest king anywhere ever of anything, be at the dedication? I should think he would be.

  3. Paul

    After all the fuss about putting spires on St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney…
    you call those spires?? These are spires!!!