When Heaven Touches Earth: Visiting La Sagrada Familia…again!

Hi all,image

I’m currently in Spain and I just got done visiting my favorite cathedral on earth: La Sagrada Familia. Readers of Beyond the Pale know that my passion is for the Kingdom of Heaven, and anything that helps make that Kingdom break in on Earth. Now I know that no building can do that…but if there is one that helps me get the picture of it, just a little bit, it is this magnificent cathedral in Barcelona Spain.

I’ve been to cathedrals and churches all over the world. As beautiful as they tend to be, they always seem to be a testament to the past. Maybe it’s because La Sagrada Familia’s construction commenced in 1882 and is only set to be completed in 2026 but there is a feeling of the future in there. This church is looking forward…to the completion of all things!

Although the designer and architect, Antoni Guadi did not live to see the finish of his concept, the devout Catholic when asked in his life how long the cathedral’s construction would take would respond, “My client is not in a hurray ”

The great part of coming a second year to Spain is appreciating the things that really blessed me…and visiting La Sagrada Familia was the thing I was looking forward to the most.

The church blends nature and the earth into the fabric of its construction. If the elves of Middle Earth were to construct a church…it would be La Sagrada Familia.

Anyhow, I am reprinting the following from my visit last year as writing updates on an iPad is a bit of a challenge. I may have to update some of the pictures when I get home onto a real computer!

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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 Rivendellor 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!

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  • I have cathedral envy! I’ve always wanted to go to La Sagrada Familia.

    My own best cathedral story involves me getting a seat right under the big dome at St. Paul’s (London) during evensong. The boys choir were singing and the sound of their voices swelled inside the dome like a heavenly wave. Sound came off the stone dome from all directions and mere boys’ voices were transformed into something overwhelming. I have never experienced anything like it.

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