Every once in a while, Heaven reaches down to touch the earth.
That was clearly the case with architect Antoni Gaudi and his designs for a towering church — now a basilica — called Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
It has been described by journalists (including 60 Minutes) as one of the most extraordinary architectural feats in history.
Gaudi, who died in 1926, was a genius who sought, with the huge, astonishing structure, to glorify God.
So sophisticated were the designs that only now, with the most modern technology, can they seek to complete this basilica that has been been under construction for 128 years.
They called him “God’s architect.” His designs were as advanced as they were complicated. He saw space in a wholly different way, one that caused space to explode. It is said that there is the sensation, as one heads toward the altar and peers upward at branched, stone columns, of a forest — which is where he believed men were closest to the Lord.
It was Gaudi’s way of atoning to God for the sins of modern mankind, said a biographer.
Pope Benedict traveled to Spain to consecrate it as a basilica in 2010; it was the first Mass ever celebrated there, alive with an 800-member choir.
One Buddhist builder converted by simply working there — and will be working there the rest of his life, as the exterior is still not completed.
Gaudi’s design models were so complex that his models had to be reverse-engineered; the most advanced aeronautical software programming has been deployed to figure out how to implement his astounding details. In other words, the most sophisticated programming currently available is needed to interpret the architectural “language” Gaudi conceived back in the 1800s.
He was a man who was often mistaken for a homeless beggar — rumpled, bearded, and using string to keep up his pants, his only concern glorifying the Lord.
Every inch of the church has meaning, reflecting on Scripture as well as the Liturgy. His geometries fit to a fraction of an inch. It is both modern and ancient.
Today massive cranes lift beams into precise place. It will soon be the tallest church on earth — but three feet shorter than the nearest mountains, in deference to God.
It was started on the feast of Saint Joseph and initially inspired by a bookseller who had returned from visiting the miraculous church of Loreto in Italy.
The basilica has eighteen spires, representing the twelve apostles, the four evangelists, the Blessed Mother, and (tallest) Jesus.
It will be at least thirteen more years in the making.
Asked about the extremely long construction period, Gaudi once replied, “My client is not in a hurry.”
[resources: A Life of Blessings]