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  • The Vatican initiates the beatification process for Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí

    The Congregation for the causes of the Saints notifies Cardinal Ricard M. Carles with uncommon speed that the process for the beatification of the architect may be opened

    BARCELONA. - The Vatican has authorized the commencement of the diocesan process that may lead to the sanctification of Antoni Gaudí, the modernist architect who began the construction of the "Templo de la Sagrada Familia" in Barcelona. The authorization came from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, and was issued only two and a half months after the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Ricard M. Carles, formally requested that the Holy See open the case.

    Now the archbishopric must arrange the inauguration of the diocesan beatification process and the constitution of the tribunal that will investigate Gaudí's renown of holiness, a process that may still be long, according to the sources that were consulted.

    In 1992, as Barcelona prepared to host the Olympic Games, a group of five friends, led by a young architect and drafting professor, José Manuel Almuzara, constituted the Association for the Beatification of Antoni Gaudí. Other members of the association included Josep M. Tarragona, engineer, Javier Fransitorra, architect, Ignasi Segarra, priest, and Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who, after working for years on the Sagrada Familia and becoming acquainted with the work of Gaudí, had converted to Catholicism.

    Six years later, the bishops of the Tarragona Episcopal Conference agreed to give the green light to the cause of canonization. Later, the archbishop of Barcelona designated the current parish priest of the Sagrada Família, Lluís Bonet i Armengol, brother of the architect who is currently overseeing the continued construction of the temple, as the postulator of the cause. On December 22, 1999, Cardinal Carles requested the Vatican "nihil obstat" in order to continue with the process.

    During this time, promoters of beatification, such as the vicepostulator of the cause, have received declarations from various elderly people who personally knew Gaudí, who passed away in 1926.

    Josep Maria Tarragona, member of the promoting association, published a study last summer titled "Gaudí: Biografía del artista" (Gaudí: Biography of the Artist), where he presents the architect as profoundly Catholic and nationalist. Unlike the image of the "young man, dressed as a dandy, lover of fine cuisine and beaming in the Liceu," as he was defined by author Josep Pla, this biography presents an image of a devoted and austere Gaudí, who participated in the processions of Good Friday and Corpus Christi, and went to mass and took communion every day.

    The association has already published images in Catalan, Spanish, English and Japanese to spread the knowledge of Gaudí's life and work. They may be translated soon into more languages.

    In these years, the association has received numerous shows of encouragement and support from all over the world, including donations. Its president, José Manuel Almuzara, is convinced that Gaudí is "Saint material," and that he may become the first architect in the Roman Catholic pantheon of saints.

    Josep Playà Maset
    Published in "La Vanguardia" newspaper.
    Barcelona, 12th March 2000

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