the Christian, as seen by one of the people
who knew him best
The year that recently ended has seen the
formalization of the beatification process
of Antoni Gaudí
Vanguardia.) - In order to truly understand
how Antoni Gaudí lived the Christian
life and the Catholic faith, it is necessary
to listen to what his contemporaries have
left us. We have chosen for our readers the
testimony of Mosén Gil Parés,
who was the custodian chaplain of the Templo
de la Sagrada Familia from 1907 to 1930. The
educator Alexandre Galí made a curious
praise of him for the labor he performed in
the schools constructed by Gaudí inside
the temple grounds.
The text which follows is an extract of the
article published in the magazine "El
Propagador" (June, 1927), under the title
"Gaudí, cristiano" (Gaudí:
Christian). Mosén Parés pronounced
various conferences during those years.
"I have had the luck of spending more
than 20 years with Gaudí. First, while
he lived in Güell Park; then, when his
family had died and he only went home at night,
there was not a day in which I did not speak
with the brilliant architect. Lastly, in these
last eight months, he moved to live in the
temple, and my cohabitation with don Antonio
was constant. Thus, for twenty-some years
the heavens have allowed me to enjoy the company
of don Antonio, a constant model of virtue,
of total sacrifice, with the shining lights
which, to our eyes, seem to surround Gaudí
with the aura of holiness. Don Antonio was
a man with a living faith; his hope in God
had no limits; at the same time he was all
heart-in other words, a burning ember of charity.
How natural it was, therefore, for him to
interpret these three virtues, foundations
of all the rest, on the three facades of the
temple of his love!
"Let us remember some of his words to
a priest, who was intimate with him, on the
very eve of the day he was run over. 'I am,'
he told him, 'a battler by temperament. I
have always fought and I have always got what
I wanted, except in one thing: in the fight
with my temper. I have not been able to defeat
it.' More than once in my happy cohabitation
with Gaudí, I had been witness to this
struggle. On one occasion he told me, after
speaking a bit harshly to the people he had
at his side: 'So-and-so has left angry. But
what can I do, poor me, if God has given me
the grace to see things with absolute clarity
at the moment, and to others no? This is the
cause of a certain hesitation to do what I
say; with my temperament I have to say things
without beating around the bush, just as they
are, and of course, people are annoyed . .
"The quality of this struggle was the
austerity towards himself which he had achieved,
especially in the last third of his life.
It was no longer the life of a career man,
as it had been before, but extremely austere
in dress and meals, as well as in rest. He
reduced all things to what was indispensable
for his individual survival: he did not live
to eat and rest, but rather he ate and rested
as necessary not to die.
"He heard the holy mass and received
Holy Communion daily, and also visited the
Host everyday. He never missed the grandiose
collective religious celebrations of the city
or the temple, and the rest of the hours of
the day he spent between prayer and work.
"From this life of faith sprang an extremely
firm hope in God, which gave him an absolute
spiritual tranquility in moments of tribulation.
'What can we do,' he said frequently in times
of adversity. 'God wants it. Let us not forget
that there is a Providence which watches over
"If anybody asked him how he could continue
through all the years that the temple required
for its construction, he would immediately
answer: 'Don't hurry-St. Joseph is a saint
with many resources.' A product of his faith
was the extremely fervent veneration which
he felt for the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.
I was preparing to travel to Rome . . . and
don Antonio trusted to me a significant donation
from his not abundant personal money: two
thousand pesetas. But he demanded of me, as
a condition, that it not be recognized as
a separate donation, but as the Josephine
Association's mite. 'Since I cannot go,' he
said, as if excusing the gesture, 'I will
give the Holy Father approximately what I
would have spent on the trip.' And he only
made one special request: that I ask the Pope
for a special blessing.
"He was a devotee of the Holy Family,
especially of St. Joseph. During the winter
of 1914-1915, when he visited different people
everyday, along with our treasurer, to seek
charitable donations to prevent stoppage of
the construction of the temple, he usually
said, with so much grace, 'I am 64 years old:
I have spent exactly half of these years in
the temple . . . and now I am the doorman.'
Published in "La
Vanguardia" newspaper. Barcelona,
December 27 1998.