La Sagrada Família, part 3

Of Doors & Towers

Before we get to today’s specifics, I must correct my terminology regarding this Roman Catholic church, UNESCO World Heritage Site and mega tourist attraction in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain, la Sagrada Família.

It is not a cathedral, as I have called it throughout my reports. A cathedral is a bishop’s seat [church], whereas La Sagrada Família is a minor basilica – no bishop here! The complete title in Catalan reads Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. The basilica was consecrated in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI and pronounced a minor basilica. I have tried to correct my mispronunciation in the previous posts from cathedral to basilica.

Now to the doors leading into this extraordinary space. There are three points of entry, each one associated with an entire side or façade of the church, which in turn represents a fundamental part of the Catholic creed or teaching.

Gaudí himself only executed the Nativity façade, creating a joyous and exuberant expression of the legends and symbolism surrounding Jesus’ birth. He chose to build this façade first to extend a loving invitation to the future congregation of la Sagrada Familia. Gaudí intended to paint the entire façade in polychrome to better include the human figures into his riotous naturalism world of animals and plants. However, the wall remains unpainted, brownish and blotchy, stained by exposure to weather over time. I wish Gaudí’s vision had been implemented! We’ve seen details of the East facing, ivy-covered copper doors in my earlier post.

Sagrada Familia Tour

Facing West we find the Passion Façade with all its anguish and cruelty. Gaudí never witnessed the construction of this side of the basilica. It is so harsh and angular that one wonders, how it might fit into Gaudí’s naturalism, let alone the Art Nouveau design style of his epoch. The puzzle is explained as soon as you learn that the sculptures defining the Passion Façade were designed starting in 1988 by Barcelona sculpture Josep Maria Subirachs. He was working with preserved Gaudí sketches, yet, in my opinion, Don Josep’s creative spirit drifted much closer to Soviet Realism than Art Nouveau. The sculpture which affected me most deeply was the Flagellation of Christ positioned right in front of the main doors of the Passion Façade.

Sagrada Familia Tour
Notice the Alpha & Omega letters above the doors
Sagrada Familia Tour
I felt it was quite symbolic how everyone in my picture had turned away from the sculpture.

The doors of the Passion Façade were most impressive also in their massive, yet detailed metallic presence.

The Glory Façade, the future main entrance into the basilica is as yet just a dream. The main doors [covered in protective sheeting in my photo] again are executed in heavy metal and heavy symbolism.

Sagrada Familia Tour

The Glory doors spell out the Paternoster in Catalan, flanked by the words “Give us this day our daily bread” in fifty languages. This portal and façade will be the most impressive and intimidating, yet glorious entry into a church ever.

And since it’s already late at night, I shall follow up with the tower perspective tomorrow.


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