Is Rome Warming Up to God’s Architect?

There is some very exciting news coming out today ahead of the Papal Visit to Barcelona next week, all of which is making this writer ask himself: is Rome getting Gaudí fever? Ahead of the Papal Visit on November 7th, each day next week The Courtier will be looking at a number of topics related to Gaudí and the Church. However, he could not resist sharing some interesting information with his readers now.

This morning the newspaper ABC, one of the three large national dailies in Spain, is reporting that the investigation of a miraculous cure attributed to the intercession of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, the great Catalan architect, will be presented to the Vatican this spring. This will occur at the same time that a major exhibition opens at St. Peter’s on Gaudí’s work at the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia, which Pope Benedict XVI will be dedicating and naming a Minor Basilica twelve days from now.

First of all, dear reader, we go to the question of a miracle. A press conference was held yesterday by The Pro-Beatification of Gaudí Association, the group of individuals privately postulating Gaudí’s cause. This was held in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona where Gaudí himself is buried, in a simple tomb beneath a statue of Our Lady of Mercy, patroness of Barcelona.

The rector of the Sagrada Familia, Father Lluís Bonet Armengol, announced at the press conference that two miracles attributed to Gaudí’s intercession had been investigated. The first was not submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints because it was felt that further medical investigation was needed. The second however, involved a woman from Reus, Gaudí’s home town in the Archdiocese of Tarragona, who inexplicably regained her eyesight after praying for Gaudí’s help.

Apparently there was no medical explanation for this cure, and it was sufficiently well-documented and examined that the Church is taking a serious look at it. In fact those in attendance at the press conference were told that the Archbishop of Tarragona intends to formally present the conclusions of the investigation to the Prefect of the Congregation this spring, as a possible miracle in the furtherance of Gaudí’s cause for beatification. At that point of course, Rome will have to have her own look-see into the matter.

During the press conference, the Association also revealed that it is in the process of preparing a 1,200-1,400 page biographical research document to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as part of the requirement for furthering the investigation into the late architect’s sanctity. The biography will be based on interviews with people who knew Gaudí personally, as well as letters, diaries, and other documents. The Association plans to complete and present this work to the Congregation in early 2012.

So here is a second bit of very interesting news: it has also been announced that, beginning in April of next year, the Vatican will be hosting an exhibition called “Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia: Art, Science, and Spirituality” in the exhibition halls of the Bernini colonnade at St. Peter’s. Apparently, while discussing the forthcoming Papal visit, officials from the Pontifical Council for Culture approached government authorities in Barcelona and asked if an exhibition could be put together on the Sagrada Familia and Gaudí’s work for display at the Vatican. The exhibition will include original models, drawings, and liturgical objects designed by Gaudí for the Sagrada Familia, as well as short films, photographs, and other materials on both the architect and his work.

While one can only speculate as to what is going on behind the aforementioned colonnade, clearly the Vatican has become very interested in Gaudí of late. The forthcoming presence of Pope Benedict for the dedication of the Sagrada Familia, his personal decision to grant it the status of a basilica, and his publicly stated admiration for Gaudí’s architecture, are certainly all very good indicators of this. On top of which, the presentation by the Archdiocese – whose Archbishop has already publicly called for the beatification of the architect – of what may turn out to be a genuine miracle wrought through Gaudí’s intercession, and the forthcoming exhibition at the Vatican itself, all interest this commentator very much indeed.

Drawing of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet at work,
by his friend/collaborator Ricard Opisso i Sala

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