Basilica of the Holy Family


I am not normally impressed by large cathedrals. I know this may just be my personal bias but I find beauty more in the simple places of worship where the focus is on the majesty of God instead of the works of man. I may be wrong but I feel as those places seem to elevate man rather than glorify God especially when you think of how much was spent on things like silver altars and golden lamp stands; funds that could be spent helping the needy.

But there is something special about the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain which was just consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI last weekend and honored with the designation of Basilica. I really think it is special. It has been a labor of love for God starting with architect Antoni Gaudi who gave his all to the erection of this church and it has been a labor of love since for all who have worked on her for more than 100 years. The work began in 1882 and is expected to be finally completed in 2026. For most of this time the funding has been raised through public donations and entry fees from its 3 million annual visitors. I have paid the fee twice so I am fairly sure there is a brick with my name on it somewhere.

If I were to summarize Sagrada Familia in one sentence, it would be “This has been an act of worship through the loving creation of a work of living art modeled in stone.” I have posted before on this and there is a video which I put together and both can be seen here.

Apart from the Pope’s consecration, it was also noteworthy as being the first time the central nave was used for a service. Until now, services had been held in Gaudi’s crypt. Hence this post to mark an important milestone in this Basilica’s story. Enjoy the pictures (all taken by LGS).

 

The Intricate Sculpture that is the Sagrada Familia
4 of 18 Spires
The Graceful "Forest" of Columns in the Basilica's Interior
A Sense of the Heavenly Inspiration
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12 thoughts on “Basilica of the Holy Family”

  1. Wow! I visited the cathedral back in ’97 – and now it is finally complete. It’s magnificant! Thanks for the beautiful photos…they bring back great memories.

  2. What a beautiful building. All glory to God is definitely deserved. But I can’t help but remember the modest Man that washed the feet of His 12 men. A cross shaped twig and a prayer would be glorifying Him also.

  3. It’S truely a very remarkable work, a wounderful building. I never was there, but Barcelona is on a list of places I want to see before I die.

  4. Hi Laura,
    No, it still isn’t complete! Can you imagine? They hope to complete it in 2026; another 16 years. Sounds like some architects and engineers are making sure they get lifetime jobs. But the central nave can now be used for services. I think the last thing they will build is the central spire which will make it the tallest church in the world. If you can, you should try to see it again.

    Joyce,
    I agree. I visited some churches in Germany which were in my mind grotesque displays of wealth and opulence and did not like it at all. My all time favorite amongst the churches I have visited is a small chapel on Lake Tekapo in New Zealand. Instead of an altar, they just had a window looking out on God’s wonderful creation of a lake and mountains and just a simple wooden cross.

  5. It seems to me the object of all basilica is to make you feel small at the foot of God. Most all of them are tremendous works of architecture, even art, but none of them connect you to God. In fact, just the opposite, a deliberate ploy of the clergy who pose themselves as the connectors between you and God and are therefore, indispensable.

    I find God at the foot of a giant oak or on the rim of a grand canyon… or in the busyness of a grey squirrel.

  6. I like structures: churches and all. I find them fascinating. I’m with you (and some others here) though…when it comes to worship I like it simple. I don’t need to worship God in a big ol’ fancy church. Non unlike what Mr. Charleston said I find God more so in nature than I do in a building.

  7. WOW!

    I’ve never seen anything like this… The wonders man performs!!

    Pearl

    p.s. Awaiting further squirrel instruction on ridding one’s self of unruly tenants. 🙂

  8. This does inspire awe, LGS, and while many may say that it eclipses all that is spiritual by stealing the spotlight to showcase mankind’s own creations, I have to think beyond that argument: I have to believe such magnificence is inspired by things divine. Like you, I think a forest is a natural cathedral and connection to God and these “artificial” edifices are not necessary. But that’s just me. There are those to whom these ornate gathering spots, cast from brick, stone, mortar and man’s imagination, are just as holy. I would never wish to argue with them – let everyone find beauty and holiness where they can. It is a big beautiful planet out there.

  9. Mr. Charleston,
    I like your choice of words….”the busyness of a grey squirrel”. Who am I to disagree? I love nature and I suppose that’s because I see God in His handiwork. I would love to worship at the foot of a giant oak or in the midst of a cathedral of trees.

    cabcree,
    I am actually afraid of heights but I have climbed some small mountains. When I spy the land from the top of the mountain, I am reminded how insignificant I am and how great God is.

  10. Pearl,
    One of the reasons why Antoni Gaudi’s work is so unique and amazing is that he is in fact a student of nature, of God’s handiwork. His ideas come from the study and imitation of the structure of trees, of bee hives, seashells etc.

    As to how to get rid of bad tenants, let’s just say that the squirrel mafia is available for hire and they know how to bury nuts where no one can find them.

  11. Caryn,
    I think I have come to realise that one can often tell whether it is God or man that is glorified by the erection of such structures. I feel Gaudi’s work on this cathedral is a celebration of God through the greatest praise of all ……..mimicking the designs in His creation. But there is much truth in your gracious words “let everyone find beauty and holiness where they can. It is a big beautiful planet out there.”

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