An exhibition exploring the art, science and spirituality of Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia Basilica is proving to be a popular winter attraction for visitors to the Vatican.
“The exhibition is so beautifully done,” said Fr. Anthony Kelly visiting from Melbourne, Australia.
“The church itself is an incredible exercise of imagination and the exhibit uses space incredibly well. It really captures the imagination I think,” he told CNA on Dec. 2.
The Basilica of La Sagrada Familia—which is Catalan for “The Holy Family”—is the creation of the Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). His innovative blend of Gothic and Art Nouveau styling that comes to life in the basilica is regarded as one of the modern architectural wonders of the world.
Still under construction, the church was finally consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Nov. 2010.
Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona described the exhibition to CNA as “another of the contributions of Christian faith which the Church has made over the centuries to the world of culture, art and beauty.”
He recalled how Pope Benedict had described the church during his visit as “a visible sign of the invisible God.” It is something, the Pope said, that is “so necessary in our Western European societies with their prevailing secular culture and religious indifference.”
Gaudi himself was converted through his work on the church. His subsequent life of devotion, which included daily Mass, earned him the moniker of “God’s architect.” He died on June 7, 1926 after being struck by a tram on his way to confession. His cause of beatification is currently underway.
“Gaudi was a Christian in word and in action,” said Cardinal Sistach.
“We must see him not just as an architectural genius but above all as an exemplary Christian. Let us all pray to the Lord that a miracle may come about through Gaudi’s intercession, that he may be declared a blessed.”
The Vatican exhibition is divided into three sections that denote the art, science and spirituality of Gaudi’s creation.
The first section, “immerses visitors in the aesthetics of Gaudi, surrounding them with his colors, forms, spaces and the various artistic techniques he used in his works,” said curator Daniel Giralt-Miracle.
The second section examines the engineering involved in the creation of the building, while the third explores “the direct allusions to the Christian religion which Gaudi included in his church.”
The Vatican exhibition is entitled “Gaudi and the ‘Sagrada Familia’ of Barcelona; Art, Science and Spirituality,” and is organized by, among others, the Pontifical Council for Culture. It is housed in the Charlemagne Wing of Bernini’s colonnade that surrounds St. Peter’s Square and is open to the public until Jan. 15, 2012. Entry is free.