10 April 2021

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
53, Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The pediment of the Passion façade of Gaudí’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona … still waiting for representations of the Resurrection (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society, Partners in the Gospel).

Easter began on Sunday with Easter Day. This week, I am offering photographs of images of the Resurrection from seven churches, some of which I have already visited during the season of Lent.

La Sagrada Família is Barcelona’s most famous building and Antoni Gaudí’s best-loved work (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

My photographs this morning (10 April 2021) are from the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a towering church often mistakenly identified as a cathedral. This is Barcelona’s most famous building and Antoni Gaudí’s best-loved work.

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was only 30 when he was commissioned to work on the basilica, and from 1915 he devoted the rest of his life to its completion. He wanted this to be one large Bible in stone and designed the three façades of the Basilica with three themes: Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, and glory.

The Nativity façade and the Passion façade are totally different in their symbols, in their artistry and their expressiveness. The Passion façade faces Barcelona, but is unlike the joy of Christmas found on the Nativity façade. Twelve sculptural groups describing the hours between the Last Supper and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ were designed by sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs.

On the upper narthex of the Passion façade, Gaudí placed those who were walking towards resurrection: the patriarchs on one side and the prophets on the other, with their names inscribed by Subirachs on the wall behind. They come together in the stained-glass window of the Resurrection, which acts as a background from the street.

The pediment of the Passion façade is crowned with three acroterions symbolising Christ’s victory over death: one in the centre and one on either side. Gaudí designed the upper narthex on the Passion façade as a pediment with an acroterion at each corner: in the centre, a cross with angels 40 metres up, expressing the triumph of charity and love over martyrdom and death. On either side, Christ is represented by the Lion of Judah, who beat death, and, on the right, by the lamb or ram of Abraham, offered as a sacrifice.

The nave was completed on 31 December 2000. When I visited Sagrada Família, the Passion façade was near completion, except for these three acroterions on the pediment and the empty tomb, and the cross and the angels were still being designed and produced. Sagrada Família is not expected to be finally completed until 2026, which marks the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death.

Christ before Pilate (John 18: 33-37) … an image on the façade of Gaudí’s Basilica of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 16: 9-15 (NRSVA):

9 Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (10 April 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for women in prisons and detention centres, and for girls in correctional institutions.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Work continues on La Sagrada Família … which is expected to be completed in 2026 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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