Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When Heaven Touches Earth: La Sagrada Familia

Sorry for the delay in posts but I just returned from 10 days in Spain.  What a beautiful country!  And more generally, what is it about Europe that is just so darn cool?  The food, the architecture, the history...sometimes its overwhelming.

Well, on my first day in Barcelona I got to visit the famed Antoni Gaudi designed cathedral La Sagrada Familia.  Let me say, I have been blessed to travel the world more than the average person and have had the opportunity to see some beautiful cathedrals but...

...this is the most beautiful church I have ever been in!

As our tour guide was explaining the history of the building outside its main entrance he replied to me, "Wait until you see the inside, its even more impressive than the outside."  And he was right.  When I entered the the vast place of worship I was suddenly overwhelmed.  A picture can not convey the moment.  My eyes misted up and I just stood there and absorbed it.

For lack of a better description the place felt...elven.

Those who are familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the subsequent movies will understand when I say I felt like I was in Rivendell or Lothlorien.  The elves in Tolkien's world are higher than men, the first born of God.  One commentator noted that they are best described as what mankind would look like had we not "fallen."  The elven feeling of the place was reinforced when the tour guide explained that the architect, Antoni Gaudi, designed to the large columns and pillars to resemble trees and branches.

Looking around La Sagrada Familia I kept thinking this place was designed by a person inspired by the Holy Spirit.  I asked the tour guide if Gaudi was a religious man?  He replied "Yes, this entire cathedral was designed by him to reveal the Glory of God!

He certainly succeeded.  I have recently posted a bit about Brian Zahnd's book Beauty Will Save the World describing how Christianity needs to dial up the focus of the beauty inherit in our faith.

 La Sagrada Familia is certainly an example of this.  It's in places like this that for one brief moment you feel like Heaven touches Earth!


Bob said...

Loved this Steve. Susan and I were in Barcelona for a couple of days in 2009, before our Med. cruise, and I have never seen anything quite like La Sagrada Familia. Except for the Tolkien analogy, had many of the same thoughts as you. As I remember, it's going to be done in about 20 years? I fully intend to go back!

Steve H. said...

Yes, its going to be done in less than 20 years now... Amazing place

Paul said...

I have always wanted to visit this church. We nearly did in 2004 - we had the option of going either to Paris or Barcelona. My better half opted for the City of Love so I'm still waiting to see La Sagrada Familia. Who knows, by the time I get there it might be finisged!