The façade comprises thirteen scenes and over one hundred carvings, arranged on three levels. They rise upwards in an S-shape, relating in chronological order the events that took place during Christ’s Passion.
The lower level contains the scenes form Jesus’s last night before the crucifixion. It begins on the left hand side with The Last Supper of Jesus and the Apostles. An inscription at the bottom of the scene refers to the imminent betrayal of Judas. “What thou doest, do quickly”. Then after the gate of the Garden of Gethsemane, we come to the scene with Peter and the Soldiers, and The Judas Kiss. Have you noticed that behind the figure of Judas there is a serpent, the symbol of the Devil?
On the right of the central doorway, we can see Peter’s Denial. This scene is very symbolic, as the three women and the cockerel that appear next to Peter represent the three times that he denied knowing Christ before the sun rose. Peter is also wrapped in a sheet, a symbol of cowardice. The last scenes on the lower level are the Ecce Homo and the Judgement of Christ. In the first of these, Jesus, who is now wearing the crown of thorns, is brought before a dubious Pontius Pilate, guarded by two Roman soldiers. Have you noticed the Romans’ helmets? They are the sculptor Subirach’s nod to the chimneys on Casa Milá, his tribute to Gaudi here on this façade. It is not the only one we shall see. At the foot of Jesus of Nazareth, the stone is cracked, announcing the imminent rupture that will take place on earth after the Son of God is condemned. A column bearing the inscription “Tiberius Emperor of Rome”, topped by an Imperial eagle, divides this from the next scene, in which Pontius Pilate is washing his hands, helped by sad three servants who are attending the unjust trial. We can also see a figure moving away. She is Procula, the Roman governor’s wife who, after failing in her attempt to intercede on the prisoner’s behalf, is walking despondently away.
The middle level shows Mount Calvary. Here, the chronological order begins on the right, following the events immediately after the trial of Jesus that we saw below. In the first scene, we see Simon of Cyrene helping Christ to carry the cross when he falls on the road to Calvary. Meanwhile, the group of the three distraught Marys stand by – the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Cleophas.
In the set of carvings in the centre, we can see Veronica, in the middle, displaying the face of Jesus on the cloth she has just used to dry his sweat. You will notice that Veronica has no facial features, so as not to interfere with those of the Holy Face. Here, Subirachs once again pays tribute to Gaudí, giving his features to the figure of the Evangelist on the left. As the model, he used a well-known photograph of the architect, taken during the celebration of Corpus Christi in 1924. This level ends with Longinus on Horseback. He was the Roman general who stuck a spear into Jesus.
On the upper level, Subirachs has depicted the death and burial of Jesus. Following the S-shaped narrative, which begins at the bottom, the first scene on the left shows us the soldiers gambling for Christ’s clothing. The main scene here is the Crucifixion of Jesus, in the centre. Look at the iron cross. Does something about it strike you as odd? That’s right, it is not the vertical cross that we are used to seeing, but instead a horizontal one that is nailed to the wall, so that Christ is suspended in the air, lightly resting his feet on the stone, and with the torn veil of the church above him. Once again we see the three Marys and St. John. In the last scene, the Burial, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are placing Jesus’s body in the tomb, next to the Virgin Mary and the symbol of Resurrection, which is an egg.
The series of carvings continues on the pyramid-shaped pediment. Can you see a large window made up of 15 smaller stained glass windows? This was the first work by Joan Vila i Grau for the church, and its represents the Resurrection of Christ. Over the window is an almost abstract sculpture of a dove, the embodiment of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, on the bridge that links the two middle spires, there is a suspended image of the Ascension of Christ to Heaven, which represents the triumph of Christ. It is a bronze statue weighing over two thousand kilos, and placed more than 60 metres above us.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos (2013)
Source: Own work
Author: Carlos Marcos (2013)
Picture: The Betrayal of Christ (2007)
Licence:Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.
Picture: Ascension (2008)
Author: Rüdiger Marmulla
Licence:Licence: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.
Independently produced by MUSMon.com, the audio guide for the Church of La Sagrada Familia offers you a broad-ranging, light-hearted and educational tour of the work of a unique and universal architect: Antoni Gaudi. There are 90 minutes of commentary, illustrated with over 73 high quality images, so you won’t miss a single detail during your visit.
If you are heading for Barcelona, the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia is a must-see. +info