the Beatification of Gaudí
The press called attention to it a few weeks ago.
I am referring to the decision to commence the
beatification process for the renowned Catalan
and architect Antoni Gaudí, initiated by
the Archbishopric of Barcelona and supported by
the Bishops of Catalonia.
There are dozens of opinions about our genius.
About his personality and his dedication. About
his ingenuity and about his intentions. About
his current success and fame and about his apparent
failure in life.
Nevertheless, there are some sides of Gaudí
which are unknown, forgotten or intentionally
passed over. One of these is Gaudí's
intimate and spiritual life. Very few biographies
or guidebooks allude to this. I will recall
a few facts.
In the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc
(Artistic Circle of St. Lucas), when monsignor
Torras i Bages was at its head, a circle of
friendship was established between the participating
artists. Among them were Gaudí and the
Llimona brothers. The Fathers of the Oratorio
de San Felipe Neri (Oratory of St. Felipe Neri)
requested that Joan Llimona make two paintings
of the patron saint of Rome: one celebrating
the Holy Mass in ecstasy, and the other living
with the "fanciulli" on the Janiculum
Both can still be seen today, magnificently
restored, at each side of the transept in the
church of the Oratory. Llimona had the unexpected
idea of modeling the well-known face of Gaudi
in the person of Felipe Neri of the Italian
In regards to Gaudí's spirituality,
is it possible for anyone - who is acquainted
to some extent with his work - to believe that
all that which one contemplates, moved not only
by its grandeur but also by the profound details
of which it is replete, could possibly have
been produced only by cold thought in search
of an ostentatious work, or dedicated to discovering
what may stir the viewer to admiration for his
work? These were neither the criteria nor the
aspirations of Antoni Gaudí. Without
a profound and habitual contemplation of the
mysteries of the faith, neither the Nativity
facade nor any other of his works could have
been conceived as he desired, and as they move
A biography of Gaudí should begin with
his death. When he died, after being run down
by a tram, nobody recognized him. He lived so
confined in his "laboratory" in the
Sagrada Familia! But what we do know is that
he was going, on foot and on time, to his evening
visit to the Oratory and, perhaps, to see his
spiritual leader and confessor, the "felipó"
He lived a long period of mystic life which,
until his death, guided him through the paths
of high mysticism comparable - architecturally
speaking - to the high mysticism of Juan de
la Cruz in his "Cántico espiritual"
(spiritual hymn), in his verses from the XVI
century, or with the verses of the "Cant
espiritual" (spiritual song) of Joan Maragall,
Gaudí's colleague and friend from the
Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. Who can
forget that the "Casa de la Pedrera"
(the Quarry House) of today was originally conceived
by Gaudí as a pedestal for a monument
to the Immaculate Conception of Mary? The phrases
"Ave, gratia plena," still sculpted
into the frontispiece of the highest part of
the facade, give testimony to this effect --
with a rose in the middle.
Antoni Gaudí, architect, renowned Catalan
and layman mystic, also deserves to be studied
with the perspective of his possible sainthood.
Ricard Ma. Carles.
Published in "La
Vanguardia" newspaper. Barcelona, November