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Josep Ignasi Saranyana Closa, high school of Church History, University of Navarra, Spain

Antoni Gaudí, Christian

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 08:28:00 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia (Barcelona)

Gaudí's love for the homeland is framed in a theology of creation.

There are two excellent biographies of Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). In 1999 appeared the one by the Catalan historian Josep Maria Tarragona (Proa, Barcelona). In 2001 came off the presses the biography written by the Dutchman, based in England, Gijs van Hensbergen (RandomHouseMondadori, Barcelona). They are two complementary approaches and, therefore, different.

In any case, we are grateful to have these two texts at hand, at a time when Gaudí's work is gaining in popularity and acceptance, his beatification process is underway, and Benedict XVI is preparing to consecrate the Sagrada Familia and raise it to the status of pontifical basilica.

The Dutch biographer has focused on a contextualization of Gaudí's architectural work, striving to capture the economic, political and cultural circumstances of the time.

Tarragona, on the other hand, has achieved a greater understanding of Gaudí's spirit, penetrating the religious background of his work, which often escapes Hensbergen.

It is undeniable that Gaudí nourishes a sincere and deep Catalanism, and that he felt a particular respect for nature. Nor can it be doubted that he was tempted by politics, although he finally turned away from it to devote himself fully to his work.

All in all, Gaudí's love for the homeland and the earth are always framed in a theology of creation, which is serious and profound, and apart from which many of his gestures could be interpreted as pure esotericism or even as the oddities of a genius.

All geniuses have had eccentricities. Is it necessary to recall some of Leonardo, Michelangelo and so many others of the Renaissance, not to mention the modern ones?

In the case of Antoni Gaudí, there were not so many, as historiography has exaggerated. Tarragona values with esteem and affection the daily life of the architect, and manages to make him more approachable and friendly. In this way, the Christian inspiration of his work becomes more accessible and also sample more authentic.