The Sagrada Familia

Topics: Catalonia, Barcelona, Sagrada Família Pages: 7 (2802 words) Published: April 18, 2005
"The Temple [of The Sagrada Família] grows slowly, but this has always been the case with everything destined to have a long life. Hundred-year-old oak trees take many years to grow tall; on the other hand, reeds grow quickly, but in autumn the wind knocks them down and there is no more to be said"1. These words, spoken by Antoni Gaudi about his life-long work, Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, are a means to justify the extremely long time needed for the construction of the Sagrada Família, while referencing the themes and structural concepts he borrowed from nature in his designs. While this logical explanation may give comfort to some, others doubt the temple's eventual completion, as its construction has just passed 123 years, with roughly half of the temple completed.1 Although churches and cathedrals have always endured long periods of construction, the plan set forth by Gaudi is of such an elaborate nature as to set the temple in a league of its own. The drive of Gaudi and others involved in the project are very representative of the Catalan people. Catalonia, and specifically Barcelona, has historically been a successful and prosperous region in Western Europe, a leader in politics and trade, but lost much of its importance and independence in modern times. Catalan nationality persevered, and Barcelona sought ways to reaffirm their identity and show the world it is a city rich with life and culture. While many projects would follow, perhaps the best example of this desire to show the world the worth of Catalonia is embodied in the Sagrada Família. The grand magnitude and elaborate attention to detail involved in the construction of the Sagrada Família are a clear portrayal of the ideal of Catalan pride. The historical setting at the time of the temple's birth is extremely important in appreciating its value to the Catalan culture. Catalonia's legacy as a great power in Europe began to be reduced in the 15th century with the Ferdinand of Aragon's marriage to Isabella of Castile, at which time Catalonia effectively became part of the Castile state. When the last of the Habsburgs died without a successor, several nations attempted to install their own candidates on the throne. Catalonia sided with the Austrian candidate, Archduke Carlos, who lost to the Bourbon absolutist Felipe V imposed by France. Barcelona decided to resist the new crown in Madrid, but without the support of their allies they were beaten into submission. Attempting to squash the Catalan identity, Felipe banned writing and teaching in Catalan.2 Later, the attacks of Napoleon in the early 19th century along with the Romanticism movement began to invoke sentiments of Catalan nationalism, resulting in the recovery of their language.1 "La Renaixença" emerged in this time, and with it a desire to bring about a resurgence of culture in Barcelona amongst the smog of the factories and the overcrowding of the city. One group that started in this time was the, "Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José" (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph), whose objective was to achieve, through the protection of St. Joseph, the triumph of the Catholic Church in a time in which the phenomenon of dechristianization was imposed by the Industrial Revolution and the accompanying social changes."3 In 1872, six years after the founding of the association, founder Josep Maria Bocabella went to Rome to offer the Pope a silver image of the Holy Family.4 While returning, he passed through the town of Loreto where he witnessed its beautiful church, and was inspired to build an expiatory temple in Barcelona dedicated to the Holy family. The association searched for a centrally located plot of land, but was forced to settle on a plot away from the city's center, bordered by the streets of Marina, Provenza, Mallorca and Cerdeña, due to their budget. The problem of an ample budget is a theme that remained with the temple throughout its construction...
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