On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, Seminarians Martín Prado, Manuel Palma, and Michael Zhang gave a presentation on the life and works of Antoni Gaudí, the Architect of God.
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In Barcelona, Spain, during the first part of the 20th century, Antoni Gaudí became famous when he designed churches and other building using nature as his model. Following St. Thomas Aquinas, he believed art should imitate nature. He said, that “those who look to the laws of nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator…Because of this, originality consists in returning to the origin.” His designs are so treasured that since 1969, seventeen of his works have become national monuments.
In addition, as a devout Catholic, he incorporated religious symbolism into the design of his buildings. His most famous design is the Holy Family (Sagrada Familia) Church in Barcelona, Spain. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI considered his work so important that on November 7, 2010, he personally traveled to Barcelona in order to dedicate the church. During the homily he praised Gaudí’s work of art saying the church “stands as a visible sign of the invisible God…In this place, Gaudí desired to unify that inspiration which came to him from the three books which nourished him as a man, as a believer, and as an architect: the book of nature, the book of Sacred Scripture, and the book of the liturgy… He made stones, trees and human life part of the church so that all creation might come together in praise of God, but at the same time he brought the sacred images outside so as to place before people the mystery of God revealed in the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…Gaudí, always inspired by nature and the Creator, and passionately dedicated to understanding Sacred Scripture and the liturgy was capable of completing a building worthy of God in the heart of the city, and therefore, worthy of man. ”
One of the principal goals of our order is to evangelize the culture. Accordingly, one of the reasons for this conference was to illustrate the purpose of art by using one of the most famous artists of the 20th century as a model. As Pope Benedict himself noted, we should “do everything possible so that even today the faith is expressed in authentic art, just as Gaudí did.”
On July 9, 2003, the process of Gaudí’s beatification was officially opened by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome. We pray for renewal of the “alliance between the Gospel and art” as advocated by John Paul II (Letter to Artists, April 4, 1999) and the beatification of this holy man who is the archetype of this alliance.
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