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The Sagrada Familia:

Beyond Stones and Spires. 

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A Dream of Devotion 

In 1866, a group of Spanish Christians decided to build a great church in honour of Saint Joseph. Sixteen years of fundraising and planning followed before the first stone was laid 1882 on the Feast of St José. The congregation’s aim was to build a temple that would stand out even by the standards of Catholic architecture, a beacon of art and faith. When the initial architect quit a year in, they found a man to take over who could live up to this vision.

Over 140 years since its construction began, the Sagrada Familia is just past halfway finished. Though incomplete, this spectacular church may be the most famous building in Barcelona, an example of commitment to grandeur and which supports social action for a better world.

© shutterstock/Mistervlad

Antoni Gaudi, the greatest figure in Catalan Modernism and the principal architect of the Sagrada Familia, created an incredible and innovative design that combined gothic elements with art nouveau, Catholicism’s generations of tradition mixing with the modern world. A building that combines the personal and the intimate with awe-inspiring grandeur, it embodies faith’s ability to connect humble human lives with the greatest forces in the universe. 

“The Sagrada Familia project represents not only the construction of a church but also the cultivation of a more equitable society”

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© shutterstock/Mistervlad

Generations of Dedication 

The Sagrada Familia has faced many challenges over the course of its construction. Gaudi’s death in a traffic accident in 1926 was the most dramatic, depriving the church of the mastermind behind its distinctive design. When Spain descended into civil war a decade later, construction was disrupted and Gaudi’s workshop in the Sagrada Familia was ransacked, leading to the loss of many of his plans. But the building’s slow progress also stems from the nature of the project. As a privately funded endeavour, it’s dependent upon the devotees backing the building. Changing times, including economic upheavals, evolving attitudes towards faith and shifting perspectives on Gaudi’s works have all affected this. In many ways, a building process that lasts down the centuries is a fitting one. It wasn’t unusual for the great cathedrals of medieval Europe to take generations to be completed. The Sagrada Familia continues in that tradition, touching countless lives along the way.

Building a Better World

In the 21st century, the Sagrada Familia transcends its role as a mere architectural marvel. The organization overseeing the church's construction has established a socialaction fund dedicated to aiding the most vulnerable populations within the Archdiocese of Barcelona. This initiative is grounded in the values of community, equity, and solidarity. The fund has been sustained by the generous donations of countless anonymous contributors over the years. Therefore, the Sagrada Familia project represents not only the construction of a church but also the cultivation of a more equitable society.

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