November 7, 2010

The Sagrada Família. A Powerful Lesson For Today's World

While celebrating the Mass for the first time there, Benedict XVI consecrated a few hours ago in Barcelona the basilica of the Sagrada Família, the stunning masterpiece—that has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026—of Christian art designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. As Vaticanist Sandro Magister puts it,

It is impossible not to see a message in this act of the pope. The Sagrada Família is an exceptionally powerful lesson for the sacred art of today: the exact opposite of so many modern tendencies toward bare and empty geometry in which the Christian mystery is lost, instead of making itself seen and lived.

The Sagrada Família is a work so rich in symbols as to have generated an additional art, the one of its own interpretation, in which an Italian-Spanish Jesuit excels: Jean-Paul Hernández. He is the author of Antoni Gaudí. La parola nella pietra, the most beautiful book yet published on the symbols and spirit of the Sagrada Família, issued in 2007.

Some suggestions from the book—concerning the towers, the façade, the “portal of the passion,” and the columns—are recalled on Magister’s website. “They are small fragments of an immensely more vast account,” Magister says, “between the divine and the human, destined to remain always open like the construction site that the visitors discover in Barcelona.” Definitely worth reading and pondering.

On the occasion, since the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is a monument to family, Benedict launched an attack on abortion and a defense of the love of a “man and a woman.” Watch the video below for an overview of the event.