"Gaudí succeeded in joining Faith
José Manuel Almuzara, the president of the Pro-Beatifying
Gaudí Association, has sent us this interview, published in
the Peruvian magazine CASAS, the 12th of September 2003, because of
giving his lecture in Lima
-It seems that Gaudi was not only the architect of light, but of
the details, too ¿Is it true so?
Yes, completely: Antonio Gaudí cared for all and sundry
of the details shaping a project. He made an effort so as to avoid leaving
anything to be studied and solved, in that search to reach perfection,
beauty. Despite of his great artistic intuition, he did not trust in it
till he checked it solidly through the experimental research and a severe
self-criticism that this was the proper solution, perfect and beautiful,
and in facing a project or a detail of it. He commented that: "The
dimension, for God, is not great, but perfect things are".
He defined the architect as "the synthetic man, who sees things
clearly in their ensemble, before they are done, that who places and ties
the elements in their plastic relationship and within the proper distance".
The 7th June 1926 Antoni Gaudí, as he used to do every afternoon,
left the Sagrada Familia Temple and headed towards the San Felipe Neri
oratory. He had previously said goodbye to Vicente, his collaborator,
telling him with his usual optimism:
"Come early tomorrow, for we shall do very beautiful things".
At that time he devoted himself to weave with his own hands the lamps
for the Sacrament Chapel, in the Temple crypt. Filled with joy, every
time he finished a lamp for the seven chapels of the crypt, he went downstairs
with the chaplain, the carpenter, the electrician and the sacrist to put
it in place with a great devotion. These are some examples of how a detail
planner and perfectionist the genial architect was.
- In which cases we may specifically find this diligence which hasn't
only to do with tracing and lines, but with details?
Certainly, Gaudí was an architect who worried about tracings,
volumes, colour, ... and the details as an architectural solution, sculptural
or decorative. in some occasions of his works these details are symbols
or tokens by means of which he communicates us, makes us to think. Gaudí
has an exceptional self taught training, a tireless laboriousness and
a solid reliance in his art, which made him to carry out such productions,
which thanks to big or small details, make us approach to the divine and
An illustrative instance of his interest towards details, both of his
human and divine interpretation, may be observed in the following fact.
It has been extracted from the book "My itinerary with the architect"
by Juan Matamala:
The model for the Roman soldier, who the slaughters the Innocents, who
stands in the portal of Hope in the Nativity façade, he was the
waiter of a nearby tavern. Besides he was two metres tall. Ricardito,
in preparing the scene, could not stop laughing.
-What’s wrong with you, young gentleman Opisso? What makes you to
laugh so much?.
The boy brought Gaudí away and made him notice that the tavern
waiter, apart from being two metres tall, had six toes in each foot, what
had been revealed when he put the Roman sandals on.
-It is phenomenal!. But you must not laugh at it, for he will get angry
with you...and I don’t advise you so.
-We will have to rectify that oddity.
-Not at all! Rather, it fits to the psychology of a soldier who slaughters
-And six is the number of the beast...
-We would like to understand why Gaudí is said to have him
been able to interpret, in his work, the laws the Creator has left to
Gaudí, from his childhood, stopped watching at nature, a fact
which increased his observation talents and initiated him in the path
which he would follow in his artistic creativity. The secret of the Gaudí’s
architecture is his minute and intelligent watching of nature, created
by God. He got the models from it, both in the geometry of his structures
as in the motifs used in the buildings he constructed: "This tree
close to my workshop, this is my teacher" he told some day to his
collaborators, summarising all what has been already told.
At the end of his life, being the fruit of that long watching and experimenting,
he reached to the great synthesis in which he apples the geometrical laws,
which rule in all the world of nature, "everything comes from the
great book of Nature", he told insistently.
Gaudí felt and behaved as a God’s creature: "The Creation
goes on and the Creator makes use of his creatures; all those who seek
the laws of nature to shape new works to them, they collaborate with the
-That is to say, Of what specific way has he overturned nature in
the architectural field?
Gaudí said that: "Architecture creates the organism, the
nit must have a law en consonance with Nature". The direct observing,
constant and thorough is reflected in all his work, mainly in the Sagrada
Familia Temple, where he worked from November, 1883 until his death in
June 1926, that is, for more than 40 years. In watching at the Nativity
façade we discover that the Gaudí's architecture is vivified
stone, in which corners the bursting and the blooming of vegetables beat
and the motion of birds in their action of flying.
Gaudí reflected nature in his architecture by borrowing its laws
and forms from it. As an instance I pick up two readings from the Gaudí's
works, by his disciple Joan Bergós Massó, published in his
book "GAUDI the man and his work".
The "Pedrera" or Casa Milà, is the architectural version
of a mountain range, pierced by natural openings, with the access stairs
depicting the isolated rocks, which crown it. This building had to serve
as a great pedestal for the sculptural monument of our Lady of the Rosary,
descending over Barcelona, accompanied by two archangels.
In the developing of the Park Güell, in which he made there a series
of porticoes and viaducts, by using the local material. Gaudí found
in it a suitable solution, the portico-viaduct, a covered walk for the
bad weather days and shady in the heat season, built with the minimal
amount of materials and with the utmost variety, and which appears to
have been born from the earth without any effort.
-Why is it more suitable to ratify what Jun Young Joo said: "Gaudí
is preaching the Catholic faith to the whole world by means of his architecture?
For it is a confirmed reality. Gaudí lived in an ascending way
in all aspects: job, familiar relations, the social and religious ones.
He was hard with himself to reach virtue: "Life is a battle, strength
is required to fight and strength is virtue, which can only be maintained
and increased with the spiritual cultivation, that is, with the religious
practise ". Therefore, being aware of this reality he frequented
the sacraments, and had a spiritual leading, prayed the rosary, read the
Gospel, he submitted himself to severe penance, fighting to serve God
and the men as better as possible.
Thus, in this human and divine exigency, in that relation between faith
and life, Gaudí manifested all his Art, his wisdom and his beliefs.
In the measure in which he makes an effort to reach Beauty, Truth, Love,
he transmits us through his architecture that outer and inner might he
has, and which is transmitted to all his works.
-Now well, ¿Why the architects of recent times who refer to
Gaudí nearly never untie the religious from the architectural?
In Gaudí it must not be done so. It is not possible to untie the
religious matters from the architectural ones. He acted in every moment
as a man and as a creature of God, as an architect and a Christian. He
did not lead a double life, he was consequent with his faith and he manifested
sorrow for those who didn’t have it, "the man without religion
is a man lacking spiritually, is a mutilated man".
As a summary of his life, I would comment two basic virtues, which would
be the model to follow for every of the architects or professionals of
any ambit: work and sacrifice.
Antoni Gaudí was a lover of work, "It is a bad matter when
a job is drawn as a hard labour; I am sorry for everyone who works as
being under an obligation...One of the finest things in life is to work
with pleasure". Everything was important for him and in everything
he made efforts to do things well, "to do things well it is necessary:
first, love; second, technique".
Antonio Gaudí practised and defended sacrifice, "life is
love and love is sacrifice. Sacrifice is the only really fruitful. The
cause of the spiritual and material progress of the religious orders,
at homes, is that they sacrifice all their limbs for the wealth of the
- What expectations do you have in arriving in Perú, which
From the very moment in which I received the invitation from Alvaro Ballón
to take part in this international event about Gaudí, together
with outstanding and well-known gaudinists, I felt a great joy to know
and learn from Lima and from its inhabitants, despite my stay will be
unfortunately short. I like the idea of taking part together with these
great professionals, learning from them and their vast knowledge and opinions.
I thank Gaudí and in a very special way to all you for the opportunity
you give me and I hope and wish that we may interchange knowledge and
varied experiences. This way we will manage to improve the co-existence
between the peoples, which must redound to peace.
- How did the initiative to beatify Gaudí arise?
The idea came from a recently deceased priest, Father Ignasi Segarra,
who, in the Easter of 1992 found himself preaching in Riudoms, a village
near-by to Reus, and he devoted his spare time to read a biography about
Gaudí. In his meditations, he wondered why until that moment the
beatifying process of this Catalan architect had not yet been started.
When he came back to Barcelona, he got in touch with me. He transmitted
his enthusiasm to me, which I transmitted to the rest three members, which
would eventually become the joint founders of the Association (the Japanese
sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, the architect Javier Fransitorra and the biographer
Josep Mª Tarragona).
The Association has as its chief goal to achieve the beatifying and
canonising of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet. It only relies on the voluntary
work and the donations paid into our account or kept in a moneybox placed
beside the architect’s tomb, in the Sagrada Familia temple crypt
Also, it is the goal of the Association, the outer diffusion of the
architect in his two dimensions, spiritual and artistic, by means of the
organising of lectures, exhibitions, publishings, etc.
The Association has been, and still is, the active part in the beatifying
Process de Gaudí; it has asked the devotion private to the archbishophric
of Barcelona, the opening of the Cause, the designing of a vice-postulator,
- In what stage of the beatifying process are you now?
The Gaudí's beatifying process was officially brought to a close
in Barcelona, by the Cardinal Archbishop, Monsignor Ricard Maria Carles,
the 13rd of May 2003.
Last May 28th I was personally charged, together with another member
of the Association, to submit in Rome the original records of the process
(documents having in all 1.024 pages, books, and a CD-ROM).
Somewhat later, the 9th of July, It was officially started the beatifying
process of Gaudí in the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints
in Rome, with the presence of Mons. Di Ruberto, secretary of the Congregation
for the Cause of Saints, the cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona Ricard María
Carles and of three members of the Pro Beatifying Association, Etsuro
Sotoo, Josep Mª Tarragona and also myself in my condition of President.
Now, the first step is to achieve the certificate of validity from the
submitted documentation. Thence, a General Court Reporter will be designated,
who will be charged to elaborate the "Positio" or report about
the candidate to become a blessed (which contains the proofs or accreditation
of the Gaudí's virtues).
The "Positio" will have to be studied and approved by a team
of experts (historians and theologists), by a committee of cardinals and
bishops and, finally, if the Holy Father considers it suitable, in seeing
the result of the research and works carried out, he will beatify him.
- What evidence of virtues do we find in Gaudí?
The tokens of the Christian virtues of the genial God's architect are
countless. It must be highlighted that Gaudí lived in a heroic
degree the human and Christian virtues and he could shape them in his
life and works, either the religious or civil ones.
If many people believe that the Sagrada Familia is a stone catechism,
most of the Gaudí's civil buildings, such as the "Pedrera"
or the Casa Batlló, also have a distinguishing religious token.
For instance, Gaudí conceived the "Pedrera" like a great
pedestal, which had to sustain a sculptural group, a statue of the Virgin
Mary with Jesus in her arms, surrounded by two Archangels. On the other
hand, the Casa Batlló is crowned by a cross, and bears the initials
JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph).
The spirituality of Gaudí may be resumed by saying he was an
architect who managed to unite faith and culture, progressing continuously
towards improvement: "The man can’t leave the higher or lower
steps, he always has to climb step by step, in intelligence, virtue, in
strength". Following the St Ignatius' principle of the continuous
effort, he summarised it in saying: "Man must always to be summed
- What do we know about witnesses of supernatural manifestations?
We, in the Pro Beatifying Association, receive witnesses coming from
people throughout the world. They have prayed the private devotion prayer
enclosed in the Gaudí’s stamp (printed in several languages)
and they have got, according to their declarations, graces related to
job, health, the passing of exams or the end of career project, etc.
Concerning to the supernatural graces, that is miracles from the genial
architect. They are being studied by a Committee of experts on healing,
inexplicable seen from the medical point of view, of a woman who had a
cancerous tumour in her ovaries - which disappeared without leaving any
trace -, after praying with great devotion to Antonio Gaudí.
Besides, there is certainty of three or four possible miracles in Europe
and America, which will be studied in depth in the next weeks.
From my personal point of view, I’m a true enthusiast of the Gaudí’s
figure, which I have studied during many years. In deepening in his life
and work I’ve found many reasons to promote in an active way his
On my opinion, it is not possible to separate the figure of the architect
from the man having a compromise with his faith and dedicated to God.
It has always drawn my attention that Gaudí was interested about
every of the aspects of a project, from the general idea till the minute
detail. For instance, in the columns of the side walls nave windows, he
placed the inscriptions, gold, incense and mhyhrr, relating them with
the inscriptions, alms, prayer and sacrifice, respectively. It would be
a way of resuming one of the Gaudí’s messages: with prayer,
sacrifice and alms, we raise the Sagrada Familia material Temple and each
one’s personal temple.
Gaudí has managed to discover, by means of a thorough, deep and
intelligent observing of nature, the models, shapes, the laws the Creator
has left us, for, collaborating with Him, constructing singular buildings.
He commented his pupil Isidre Puig Boada: "The creation goes on ceaselessly
by means of men; the man doesn’t create, he discovers and parts
from this discovery. All those who seek the laws of nature to form new
works collaborate with the Creator; people who copy don’t collaborate.
Thus the originality consists in coming back to the origin".
Antoni Gaudí is an example for Christians and non-Christians,
through his life, his thought and his work, has brought the woman and
man to empower or to discover, aspects of the love towards God. His life
and work reflect his unity of life; Gaudí cannot be understood
out of faith.
Jun Young Joo, the chairman of the Board of Commerce and Industry of
Pusan, Korea wrote us: "Gaudí is preaching the Catholic faith
to the whole world through his architecture"..."By means of
the Gaudí’s works, and the divine touch they possess, I became
convinced of the existence of God"...
I believe that, for everybody in general and to the architects in particular,
it fits us very well to have a model to follow like Gaudí, both
concerning the professional and the spiritual matters.
12 September 2003