CHIESAOGGI ISSN 1125-1360 N. 108
DOI: 10,13,140/RG.2.2.29581.28641

ABETI Maurizio (IT)


This article is a singular adventure in the field of modern architecture through the “Templo de la Sagrada Familia”, which has tried to demonstrate, without taking many accounts of the technical development of his Domus Ecclesiae, the genius and extraordinary creativity of Antoni Gaudí.
Not only, it is, above all, a study of the relationship between its architectural figuration and the symbolic structure of its Christian experience, integrated and not instantly visible; a union between art and faith of very high architectural methodology, to place it in the context of the increasingly contemporary problem of sacred architecture as a language.


Of this mysterious reality wants to be visible expression this magnificent 
temple of the Holy Family of Barcelona, due to the inspiration of a soul
particularly sensitive to everything about the church as the Father Giuseppe
Mañanet y Vives and work of art of the genial maestro Antonio Gaudi...

ANGELUS – Apostolic Voyage to Spain of John Paul II
Barcelona, 7 November 1982
Figure 1 – View of the east facade of the Nativity of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia, ©

When to an architectural-artistic-historical value,  is associated a faith that is not separated from the engagement as the foundation of Christian architecture, the essential appointment becomes the interest that arises in the architectural monument, which on the one hand contemplates the conception Ecclesiological and liturgical and on the other hand conveys, beyond and through the aesthetic perception, the “Fides Ecclesiae”. This “cathedral”, last of the kind for more than four hundred years, between the monumental quality, dynamic and evolutionary dimension of the place of faith, is, in my opinion, an emblematic example and purchases pedagogical value in the interpretation of St. John Paul II: «This Temple of the Holy Family is a work that has not yet been finished, but it is solid in a principle, remembers and compiles another construction made of living stones: the Christian family, the essential human cell where they are born and Faith and love grow incessantly.» (ANGELUS – Apostolic Journey to Spain of St. John Paul II, Barcelona, November 7, 1982).
The introduction is to say that this “essay” does not want to be a description of its compositional, typological, dimensional features or a particular style, which has made it one of the main symbols of the city of Barcelona and has allowed its proclamation to ” Heritage of humanity “by UNESCO, but a” decisive “intervention to highlight and contemplate the eschatological, symbolic and semantic value that it possesses and carries both at the level of the linguistic-symbolic-liturgical system and from the point of view of Antoni Gaudí as Christian architect.
But I cannot avoid asking myself how today, when the need for authenticity has become very alive, the design is entrusted to architects or archistars that, having no experience and knowledge in the field of the sacred and its symbolism or being limited, in general, by a syncretistic religion, are incapable of expressing the richness of the symbolic and ecclesiological acquisitions dictated by the Second Vatican Council and remain linked to a functionalist or rationalist or neo-modern or post-modern or high-tech New Age, ending to build buildings-churches as a sports hall or a cinema or a theatre or as a meeting room or at most as a structuralist exhibition. In this regard I carry what Bruno Zevi wrote some time ago: «Our churches, even those architecturally qualified, reiterate whiplash settings, lacking in vitality and message. … they eliminate the decoration … and mostly do not create new spaces … for the lack of genuine inspiration, inventive will, and profound religious needs».
But I cannot avoid asking myself how today, when the need for authenticity has become very alive, the design is entrusted to architects or archistars that, having no experience and knowledge in the field of the sacred and its symbolism or being limited, in general, by a syncretistic religion, are incapable of expressing the richness of the symbolic and ecclesiological acquisitions dictated by the Second Vatican Council and remain linked to a functionalist or rationalist or neo-modern or post-modern or high-tech New Age, ending to build buildings-churches as a sports hall or a cinema or a theatre or as a meeting room or at most as a structuralist exhibition. In this regard I carry what Bruno Zevi wrote some time ago: «Our churches, even those architecturally qualified, reiterate whiplash settings, lacking in vitality and message. … they eliminate the decoration … and mostly do not create new spaces … for the lack of genuine inspiration, inventive will, and profound religious needs.»[1].
I do not know if I have been clear, but I will surely be understandably accurate in affirming my deep dissatisfaction with these design experiences. It is a disappointment not only with regard to the communication of the figurative system that is represented as an individual improvisation because, and I repeat, without experience and knowledge in the field of liturgy and its symbolism but also in relation to their architectures, which do not shine for formal qualities: the geometric object has “starved” to the protagonist!

Figure 2 -Massimiliano Fuksas, Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Foligno, ©


Immediately I remove imaginative interpretations. In this colossal and still unfinished basilica of the Sagrada Familia (Temple Expiators of the Sagrada Familia/Temple of the Sacred Family – Barcelona 1883 – 1926), illusions, dreams and magic are merely erased. Its complex space composition with its plastic shapes, with the use of painting, sculpture and the abundant use of natural light between suggestive plays of light and shadows; with its structure conceived as a mechanism in which all members are arranged in a “supreme” order to seek an architecture free of any classification, institution of norms, taboos, idols, and academic myths; where its spatial creativity is, in some ways, unpredictable, atypical, full of colour and charm.

Figure 3 – Covering the main nave, Chromatic effect given by the side windows.

It is ultimately a new “cathedral” full of symbolic essence and Christian message. In this sacred architecture, the symbolic meaning echoes not only a communicative quality (adopting a reference architecture or, as some say, figurative, which we will see later), but above all a revelation. Indeed, the linguistic meaning of the symbol is an effective, solemn sign that immediately and completely invokes an important but concealed or just about definable reality, which here, in the sacred theme, the faithful feel the significance of the Arkan being divine. The structure of the sacred symbol of this Catholic basilica contains in its aesthetic mark of transcendental valances for its reading and expresses its symbolic meaning. «Symbolism, therefore, carries a level of specific knowledge, other than discursive: given there is no end to communication … For this reason, the structure of the symbol, in order to achieve the purpose, must be simple and easily understandable»[2]. There is therefore a need for an explicit and visible image and this sacred building has the ability to reactivate the tension that animated the proto-Christian churches: constructed with constructive elements expressing, meaningfully and symbolically, the richness of its content: «the sign of the Church Pilgrimage on earth and image of the Church already blessed in heaven» (Roman Pontificate, Dedication to a Church, Foreword N ° 28).
From this perspective, the compositional system and the typological content of this Gaussian Domus Ecclesiae are born, where all the architectural, structural and decorative elements are constitutive of the Christian message and translate into a “living” stone the Bible and the teachings professed by the Catholic Church.

Figure 4 – Tree of Life, ©

The depth of faith for the spirit of the liturgy and the social doctrine of the Christian Church of Gaudí, which led him to the design and construction of such a majestic basilica, was analyzed by Benedict XVI in the Omelia of November 7, 2010, for the celebration of Consecration of the Basilica: «Gaudí, Benedict XVI, seeks to combine the inspiration that came to him from the three great books he was eating like a man, as a believer and as an architect: the book of nature, the book of Sacred Scripture, and the book of Liturgy. Thus he united the reality of the world and the history of salvation, as we are told in the Bible and made present in the Liturgy. He introduced stones, trees, and human life into the sacred building so that all creation would converge in divine praise, but at the same time, he brought out the “retabli” (altar poles), to put in front of men the mystery of God revealed in the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this way, he genuinely collaborated on the building of an anchored human conscience in the world, open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ»[3]

Figure 5 – Planimetry, ©, Puig i Boada, Isidre El temple de la Sagrada Família, Ed. Nou Art Thor, Barcelona, 1986.

Inside the planimetric diagram, 110 m. of length and 80 in width, with a Latin cross with five aisles in the longitudinal direction with the portal of Glory and a transept with three naves with portals of Nativity and Passion; and the compositional system (the twisted hyperboloid times supported by the tree-shaped helix columns inclined in the direction of the push to counteract, which at the same time act as static elements and buttresses, the latter also determine between element Bearer and that carried a continuity of curved surfaces – the “línea de Dios”, Gaudí, claimed that the curved line is the line of God, whereas the straight one is of men. Surely this is why the curved surface is fundamental in its Design, – which coincide with the united plastic effect of the set, the parabolic arches, the lights and the polychromatic effects of coloured side windows) transmit to the space, high and bright, an intimate and ascending effect.

Figure 6 – Inside view, ©, author Piero at Dutch Wikipedia.

This “cathedral” is a world of impressions, memories, images where everything is in symbiosis: the volume, the fascination of the lines, the richness of the materials, the study of the colours, the architectural details, the same dimensions of the work monumental; all that to offer to the convened assembly that mystical atmosphere able to open the doors of the heart to the gospel message in which everyone can find himself with the source of life: Jesus Christ. Immediately we feel the sensation of being immersed in a dimmed darkness, created skillfully by this game of artificial lights and colours, so as to let the material and psychological worries in their intimate fading. This extraordinary light-emitting artefact is born from the coloured stained glass windows that fragment the sidewalls on each side: the light, filtering through the glass and passing through this “tree forest”, acquires reddish, rose, bluish or greenish intonations according to the time and the angle of incidence of the solar radius.
We can certainly compare the stained glass of the Sagrada Familia to the marvellous Gothic stained glass windows with which the architects wanted to realize the dream to virtually eliminate the walls and to create a linear space work between the interior and exterior.
The genius and faith of Gaudí master consist precisely of understanding that the Christian in these spaces makes the experience of a present and saviour God. Here he experiences celebrates the Beauty of God through the ordered art to emphasise the Mystery and help the faithful to enter into communion with the Lord. This requires a style and environment that
This was his thought: «Beauty is the splendour of truth; Without truth, there is no art. The splendour attracts everyone, so art is universal»[4].
It anticipates so much the same Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC 122-129), which promotes the collaboration of sacred art, which, with its sacramental language, contributes to the development of liturgical reality in its symbolic and semantic dimension.

Figure 7 – Facade of the Passion, ©, author Bernard Gagnon.

All the imposing sacred complex is an iconographic program that extends and describes the mystery celebrated in connection with the history of salvation. The facade of the Nativity, neo-gothic, constructed with sculptures created by Gaudí and realized by his disciple Jaume Busquets, a Catalan sculptor and painter, expresses the enthusiasm and joy of living and it is coated by sculptures that tell the nativity of Jesus: the Annunciation of the Archangel to Mary, the birth, the visits of shepherds and the Magi, the massacre of the innocent, the escape into Egypt, etc., also enriched with natural elements and flora and fauna components that make it a vitality concentrate. The two side facades, one to west, dedicated to Passion and to Jesus’ death, made by contemporary sculptor Josep Subirachs (designed by Gaudí following a serious illness, which clarified: “The facade of the Passion must be Harsh, disguised as if it were made of bones), it is particularly impressed by its anguished characters: thin, deprioritized, afflicted; and recounts and confers the pain of Christ’s passion: the Last Supper, the betrayal of Judas, the plundering, the flagrancy, Peter’s denial, the judgment of Pilate, the ascension to Calvary, the division of clothing and death. While that one to the east, consecrated to the Glory of Christ, was completed in 2012 and represents, according to Gaudí’s will, a path “upward toward the sky”; And realized, according to his sketches and as his desire, with an architectural language corresponding to the style of the moment of the future generation that would continue his work. The 18 towers are dedicated to the Apostles, to the Four Evangelists, to the Virgin Mary and one, the highest, to Jesus Christ, 172.5 meters high. The portals are dedicated to the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. The latter said: «The portal must be large enough, she explains, not for the single man, but for all mankind, because everyone has a place in their Creator»[5].
To conclude, we can safely say that the Sagrada Familia is not only in the architectural language that detects the Beauty that saves the world but becomes an art that combines architectural composition with the symbolic liturgical dimension. And his symbolic formation is his core component, his heart. An aspect of this, formed of formative forms, of spaces and figurative language, is the ontological quality it can transmit to the point of making the faithful feel in the materialized and secularized time the presence of the Risen Christ. This transcendental dimension of “postponing to” becomes (and experiments) the centre of every formal element.


Architects capable of ingenuity and to create architecture in the literal sense are very rare at all times. Abundant the superficial and the mediocre that various forms for vague anxiety or complementary fashion, without altering the contents. Few of them know how to withstand the fear of being “overcome” or “ageing”, maintaining a coherent linguistic repertoire and focus on the renewal of the themes: they are the authoritative and profound architects involved in a work of high professional, educational and spiritual value. Among them, in the history of architecture, Antonio Y Cornet Gaudí, Spanish architect (Reus 1852 – Barcelona 1926) emerges. Living in a period of renewal throughout European architecture, Gaudí takes part in extremely personal ways. A small, communicative figure, possessed by profound spirituality of missionary profit, completely unconscious with respect to customers (able to dispose of all the sums entrusted to build a house realizing only the cancel). In short, an artist in the romantic and mythical sense of the term; driven by a fatal necessity (the nephew’s premature death in 1912, and then that of his father) Gaudí analyzed: «I have nothing more. Now I can devote myself completely to the temple of the Sagrada Familia»[6]. Very elegant until thirty years and then “invested” by the Divine Spirit, he intensifies his prayer and dedicates himself to very demanding access so as to be often mistaken for a beggar for his neglect and wit.
Its stylistic and cultural sources are complex and at first conceivable: in local architecture (Catalan, Baroque, Arab and Mudejar Gothic); In the medieval structuralism of the French neo-Gothic architecture of Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le Duc, in the theories of John Ruskin, which strongly influenced Victorian and Edwardian aesthetics, and William Morris, the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement and the forerunner of modern designers And English pre-Raphaelists; In the taste of new materials, in the interest of natural forms in decorative and structural function, which we will see below. He is mainly based on Gothic revivalism, but soon becomes independent of all subjection to historical styles; It joins international liberty for the same anxiety of research and renewal, but in mature works surpasses the decorative limit, of rarefied preciousness, of that style for unpublished structural and spatial research, which transfigures the full and empty of the box in an expressionistic sense boundary. The engagements with the local tradition are especially evident in the works of the youth (Casa Vicens and Casa Güell in Barcelona, 1878 – 1880 and 1885 – 1889, El Capricho in Gomillas in northern Spain, 1883 – 1885), where there are also enamelled tiles, Parabolic arches and jewels of liberty taste, which will remain a constant in Gaudí’s work.
The mature works, amazing in their exasperated stylistic tension, are the Chapel of Colonia Güell at Santa Coloma de Cervelló near Barcelona (1898-1914), the Güell Park (1900 – 1914), Casa Battló (1905-1907), Casa Milá 1905 – 1910) and the wonderful basilica of the Sagrada Familia, of which he said: «I came to resume architecture where it was left by the Byzantine style.»[7]. Gaudì emphasizes structural research with a sharp sensitivity to the three-dimensional values and the plastic and colour qualities of the shapes by making the materials work at the highest yield coefficient and aiming for a mutual integration of architecture, sculpture and painting.
Gaudí’s architecture has fallen a silence curtain in the period between the two wars, dominated by rationalist culture. A resumption of interest for his work only took place after this postwar period, when some recent architectural solutions and certain needs highlighted by today’s architectural culture (to humanize architecture, to overcome the rigid stereometry of box houses, enhancing the Expressive factor of architectural language, etc.) have brought to attention the work of the Catalan.
Bruno Zevi wrote: «A genius of Borrominian strife leads you to a Nazorite existence by diluting etymons and conventions, forging iron and stone with your own hands, torturing physically abundant organisms, such as Casa Battló, to extract spaces that seem to be moulding cables of terracotta. Ignored by the international culture that liquidates it as “late Baroque”, its source did not even touch the expressionists. But it must be remembered that since 1928 Le Corbusier disoriented his Spanish friends recognizing the exceptional, upsetting personality: he would remedy it later, by shaping Ronchamp»[8].


It was June 22, 1993, in the Magna Hall of the Faculty of Architecture of Naples, Sala de SS. Demetrius and Bonifacio, an international convention was held which was titled: “Meeting on Antoni Gaudí”. The Catalan architect with his almost “superhuman” creativity gained consensus in the world of architecture to such an extent that Giulio Pane, professor of Architecture History, said in his speech: «From the need to rediscover the path of his inventive To the need to re-think the very way to do architecture ….. approach us to Gaudí, that is, to find that we are finally faced with a personality full of expressiveness and, as we do, by the bond of paternal love with Michelangelo, Of Brunelleschi and of many other artists, we can not see why Gaudí should be excluded from this illustration, […]»[9]. But already with the monograph of Roberto Pane, Giulio’s father, in 1964, Gaudí had now become part of the History of Art as a figure out of the ordinary for authority, a source of creative fervour, so to be considered a “poet”. Not because of the lack of specific literature about the famous Catalan architect until then, and I quote some authors: James J. Sweeney, José Luis Sert, George R. Collins, etc., but their criticism was more tied up to reinforce the figure of Gaudí from the historical point of view, by linking it to various architectural styles, such as Baroque or Gothic revival or Catalan modernism, expressionism or surrealism; forgetting to study the plastic “revolution” of this genius in the scientific and artistic sense, and, moreover, spiritual.
His creativity, lacking sufficient critical analysis, has been easily translated into slogans. Much more often than not, it has often been combined and mixed with other terms, which are also fascinating but ambiguous, such as improvisation, spontaneity, gratuity, fantasy, etc. While Gaudí’s creativity has not only a methodology tied to a profound knowledge of the historical-cultural-architectural context but is oriented towards a Christian vision of art: «A church is the only thing worthy of representing a people’s mind, for religion is the highest thing in man»[10], so He conceived the Gaudí building-church. And again: «The church of the Sagrada Familia is made by the people, which is reflected in their own way of being. It is a work placed in the hands of God and entrusted to the will of the people. By living in contact with the people and turning to God, the architect is doing his job»[11].
On April 12, 2000, Cardinal Ricardo María Carles Gordó, then Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​responded to a request from Giovanni Ricciardi on Sagrada Familia’s architectural superiority and if one could talk about the sanctity of his creator, he said: «No doubt. I think you speak very clearly of Gaudí’s holiness. He said that the expression “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” on the towers of the Sagrada Familia was to be an exhortation for everyone to praise God. Sagrada Familia is an architectural representation of all the Christian mystery, according to the cycle of the year liturgical. Not surprisingly, one of Gaudí’s most beloved books was The Liturgique of Benedictine Dom Guéranger, who was a holy monk»[12].
The decorative composition of the Barcelona Basilica portrays words from the liturgy. The already mentioned 16 towers are decorated with words like “Hosanna”, “Excelsis”, and as it was said by Cardinal R. M. C. Gordó, “Sanctus”; The great door of the Passion facade transcribes Bible words in various languages, including Catalan.
«There is death, judgment, hell, glory. Death is in the tombs of the porch. Hell is in the galleries. Full view of the porch: at the highest point, God the Father. Below, the great rose of the Holy Spirit. Below, Jesus judges men with the instruments of passion. The creation of the world. Humanity: the Virgin Mary surrounded by angels. San Giuseppe addressed to water and firefighters. The Beatitudes. The works of mercy. The gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sin and virtue. The sacraments and invocations of our Father.
Outside: the bell-tower dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint James, and Sant’Andrea.
Among the bell towers, the Credo is written in bright clouds. In a single set of faith, hope and charity»[13].

Figure 8 – View of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

His conception of the relationship between faith and art was peculiar and typical of his mentality as an artist and a man of profound spirituality and faith. He argued that there should be no conflict because they both cooperated for the good of man. However, just because only the contents of the faith are certain beyond any doubt, every other human knowledge was continually subjected to tight critical scrutiny. He wrote, for example: «Human intelligence can only act on a plane, has two dimensions: it solves equations of an unknown, of a degree. Angelic intelligence has three dimensions and works directly in space. In it, man can not act until he has seen what he has already done, the realization. Initially, it only follows linear trajectories on a plane»[14]. And again: «Science is a basket that becomes more and more full of objects and nobody can handle it unless the art intervenes, which fixes the handles to the basket and extracts the necessary for its accomplishments»[15]. In his opinion, art had to seek out its inspiration in the laws and models observed in nature; In fact, that art and nature were the work of the Creator, in which the Truth and the Beauty shone.

Figure 9 – The central rosette of the Sagrada Familia, ©

This quest for beauty becomes the sole goal of her life. He stated that: «The great book, always open, and to strive to read, is that of nature; Other books derive from this and also contain interpretations and misunderstandings of men. There are two revelations: one, that of the principles of morality and religion; The other, who guides through the facts, is that of the great book of nature.
The aeroplanes are similar to those of insects with flat and non-rigid wings, which for centuries are flying perfectly. The building aims to protect us from the sun and the rain, like the tree that collects the sun and the rain. The imitation [of nature] comes to the architectural membranes since the trees were the columns; At a later time, we see capitals ornamented with leaves. This is a further justification for the Sagrada Familia structure»[16]. e are at the Expressionist Naturalism [17], where structural architectural plasticity finds a solution in nature: «The column is the stem, the trunk, the cover is the mountain, with its slopes and peaks; The vault is the cave, whose sections are the parable, the most rugged planes of the quarries form archways …»[18]. «They wondered why I would have tilted columns. I answered them: For the same reason the tired traveller, when he stops, leans on the inclined stick, for if he does not rest it vertically»[19]. So it “sublime” aesthetically the traditional colonnade transforming it into tree stumps (columns with canopies of branches and leaves in order to magnify the process of natural sunlight in a divine manifestation force. For Gaudí, nature is lived as a reality outside of man, which needs to be used to nourish, dress, build houses and churches, and so on, exploiting materials and energy. Traces of this magical relationship with nature (in this case the animal kingdom) is also found in the spiral-shaped scales of the spires, whose spiral motion was realized by thinking of snails and shells.

Figure 10 – The spiral staircases of the towers Spiers, ©

He asserted: «The essential quality of the work of art is harmony; In plastic works, it is born of light, which gives relief and decorum.»[20]. And again: «The light and the mother of the plastic arts. Architecture is the measure and sorting. Of the light; Sculpture is a play of light; Painting is the reproduction of light by colours, which are the decomposition of light itself.»[21]. The symbolism of light developed by Gaudí appears to be moulded on the mystical theology of Pseudo-Dionysius Aereopagita (a Christian neo-Platonic philosopher of the 5th and 6th centuries) who considers earthly brightness as a reflection of God’s light and the physical brilliance of visible things. Allows man to approach the transcendent [22].
This explains why in its great sacred work the light (natural and artificial) has been studied and designed to characterize the celebratory environment not only to help the faithful to perceive his transcendental and mystical character but to become an architectural element Constructive, capable of organizing and tempering the “void” of its space, becoming the building and shining part of it. The interior of the “cathedral” is thus flooded with a colourful brightness that, on one hand, transforms and redefines the spatial relations, on the other hand, assumes an important symbolic value as an element that can evoke the presence of the divine in sacred space.
The genius of Gaudí was to characterize sacred spatiality, not through a system of actions calculated specifically for the purpose of the end, that of fulfilling a certain “utilitas, firmitas and venustas” (hence, Vitruvian), and hence a set of columns, uprights, arches, architraves, capitals, shutters, shelves, etc., where everything is calculated, but creating, in the free irregularity of natural shapes (such as a forest or as an open country or as a forest), a natural space which becomes intimate, within the architecture to such a degree that it becomes highly spiritual and contemplative and, as such, a vector to reach God. Gaudí contemplated architecture within nature; moreover, his sensitivity meant precisely whether a detail was to be higher or lower, more straightforward or curved, thanked God for giving him this gift [23].
This is, therefore, the wonderful fact offered in the basilica: art and reality become one thing in the supernatural state and under the glance of God. To act liturgically (so relates Gaudí: «This tree is close to my creator: He is my master»[24]) means this: to become, with the support of grace, a work of living art before God, with no other purpose than to be and live contemplating God. In this way the work of art has no purpose but, on the contrary, it makes sense and precisely that (ut sit) of being only splendour Veritatis. He affirmed: «To find the truth, the beings of the created world must be well known»[25], then the supreme Creator.
In the gigantic yard of the works of the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí establishes a spirit of fraternity. Social security did not exist yet and the workers were forced to work until their end life. In his prophecy, Master Gaudí established a system of mutual assistance which consisted of taking a small part of each’s salary to pay for the worker’s illness. The workers loved him so much that, speaking of him, they called him “Father,”: Gaudí would never know [26].
From the technical side he said:
«The architect must be able to take advantage of what” know how to do “and what” can do “the workers. It has to exploit the dominant qualities of each. In other words, it has to be able to integrate, sum up all the efforts and assist them; so each one works with pleasure and with the confidence that gives absolute trust to the organizer.
It should also be remembered that no one is useless, whoever serves (although not all have the same capacity); The problem lies in understanding what each one needs.»[27].
Underlining that: «It is the providence that, according to his designs, he completes the works»[28], and that «The temple of the Sagrada Familia is scapegoat …. Explain that this means that he feeds on sacrifices …. The sacrifice is also necessary for the good performance of the bad works; Since it is not possible to escape it, it is worth doing it for good works.»[29]. For this reason, in October 1925, he moved from his Parc Güell home to the yard of the Sagrada Familia, giving all his remuneration for the work of the basilica.
«When it comes to the economic crisis, it begs to beg in order to pay the workers; But doing this costs him a lot. One day, a poor woman gives him a small, somewhat sum of money, which he is happy to deposit in the alms of the Temple. Another day, wait under a balcony to shelter from the rain; A passerby takes him for a true beggar and makes him the alms of two pesetas who follow the same path. Gaudi’s poverty causes some misunderstanding about him. On the occasion of the visit of the Sagrada Familia by Infanta Isabella, Gaudí appears on the spot and the real guards, seeing this man dressed so poorly, cast him out. His collaborators exclaim: But how stupid are the guards! “No, replied Gaudí, they are at their place.»[30].
A man of faith who, firmly tied to the cult of the Blessed Virgin, loved the Church. For him «the man without religion is a mutilated man. To do good things firstly requires love, only after the technique»[31]. Assiduous participant of the Eucharist, he meditated constantly on the reading of the Gospels from which all the reflections and inspiration of the symbolic repertoire that characterizes the compositional language of the basilica began.
On November 7, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI emerged in the basilica’s consecration celebration: «In an age when a man is seeking to build his life behind God, as if he had nothing to say to him, the consecration of this church of “Sagrada Familia” is an event of great significance. Gaudí, with his work, shows us that God is the true measure of man, that the secret of true originality is, as he said, returning to the origin that is God. Himself, thus opening his spirit To God, he has been able to create in this city a space of beauty, faith and hope that leads man to the encounter with the One who is the truth and the beauty itself»[32].


Gaudí, with his «form of holiness»[33] (to use Roberto Pane’s terminology) and his very personal language creativity consisting of arabizing forms, baroque emphasis, neo-gothic formulas, engineering mastery and synthesis between static and sculpture with reflections of expressionist style, adorned not by a copied nature, but by its process, contemplated and transformed into architectural plasticity, restored in this sacred architecture (as it is today) an explicit referentiality between architectural figuration and essential contents of a building-church as a place of worship.
An academic invocation, considering that in those years it was neoclassicism in all the anachronistic sacred official architectures, that of Gaudí, with its spectacular space and volumetric inventiveness, based on an anti-class geometry, the study and the use of the first parabolic arches, his architecture composed of articulate and flowing ornamental elements rich in colour effects so much so that it can be defined as a new “invention” of the image of sacred architecture crowned with a biblical language enhances its plasticity between transcendence and existentialism.
Gaudí risks embodying the “revolutionary” of today’s motion of escape that is required in today’s architecture and, in this logic, even his death is consistent, when in June 1926 at the age of 74 he was invested by a tram.
He did not like writing and never published a book. He has, however, handed over many records of his architectural work to collections: Isidre Puig Boada; By José Francisco Ràfols Fontanals; By Joan Bergós Massó and others by César Martinell Brunet. No doubt it can be said that the paper was not exceptional, but it was certainly one of the best writers of Stone History on Architecture [34], and at the same time he was considered one of the last masters and certainly the first of modern designers.


1.   Bruno Zevi (1978), “Italy without churches” in Chronicles of Architecture, vol. 7, sec. Ed., Editors
      Laterza,  p. 323.
2.   Sandro Benedetti (1995), Sacred Architecture today, Gangemi Publisher, Rome, pp. 148-149.
3.   Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, taken from Abbey Saint Joseph of Clairval, F-21150
      Flavigny sur-Ozerain, France.
4.   Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, op. cit..
5.   Ibid..
6.   Ibid..
7.   Antoni Gaudí(1995), Ideas for architecture. Writings and Thoughts Collected by Students, edited
      by Isidre Puig-Boada (1995), Jaca Book, Milan, N° 69, p. 120.
 8.  Bruno Zevi (1973), Spaces of Modern Architecture (Catalan Modernism: Antoni Gaudí, 100-101),
      Giulio Einaudi Editore, Turin.
9.   Roberto Pane (1964), Antoni Gaudí, Community Editions, Milan.
10. Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, op. cit..
11. Antoni Gaudí, op. cit., n. 332, p. 230
12. Giovanni Ricciardi with Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Ricardo María Carles
      Gordó from the International Month 30 Days n.04 / 2002 entitled: The Dante Alighieri of   
13. Antoni Gaudí, op. cit., n. 362, p. 241.
14. Ibid.,n. 221, pp. 197 - 198.
15. Ibid.,n. 227, p. 199.
16. Ibid., n. 11, p. 100.
17. Joan Bergós I Massó (1999), Gaudí: Man and Work, Jaka Book, Milan, p. 60.
18. Ibid., p. 60.
19. Antoni Gaudí, op. cit., n. 186, p. 176.
20. Ibid., n. 25, p. 106.
21. Joan Bergós I Massó, op. cit., p. 36.
22. See, online resource
      laeropagita- 1490.
23. Juan-Eduardo Cirlot, Per Vivas, Ricard Pla (2001), Gaudí: Introduction to its Architecture,
     Triangle Postals, Barcelona, p. 31.
24. Antoni Gaudí, op. cit., n. 13, p. 101. See, also n. 372, p. 246.
25. Ibid., n. 22, p. 105.
26. Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, op. cit..
27. Antoni Gaudí, op. cit., n. 201, p. 181.
28. Ibid., n. 332, p. 230.
29. Ibid., n. 330, p. 229.
30. Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, op. cit..
31. Ibidem.
32. Ibidem.
33. Roberto Pane, Antoni Gaudí, op.cit..
34. See, Spiritual Letter by Dom Antoine Marie Osb, op. cit..
Indirizzo corrente:
Maurizio Abeti
Professore del Corso di Storia dell'Arte Contemporanea e delle Arti applicate
Universitas Mercatorum 
Piazza Mattei, 10  
00186 Roma (Italia)

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