I wanted this great façade to be like a Catechism for worshippers, which is why is devoted it to the human and family side of Jesus. It had to be a book that told the story of the main events of Jesus’s childhood with his parents.
First look at the middle doorway. Can you see that it is built in the shape of a grotto? It represents the Stable in Bethlehem, which has always been a much loved image in Mediterranean countries, particularly here in this region. If you go over to the central column, you will see that it is inscribed with Christ’s family tree.
It begins with Adam and Eve’s Original Sin, which is shown by the serpent and the apple you can see at the base, and it ends with the birth of Christ, who was to save mankind from sin. The infant Jesus is lovingly held by the Virgin Mary, under the attentive gaze of St. Joseph. To be honest, I have never understood why St. Joseph has always been relegated to a secondary role in Christian art, when he was in fact the pillar and support of the Holy Family. To reclaim the importance of Joseph, I wanted him to be a common presence in the church, which is why you will often come across him.
Now take a look at the groups of carvings that decorate this entrance. On the left and right of the crib, the Wise Kings and the Shepherds are seen adoring the child, while a choir of angels celebrates the Good News by singing and playing their musical instruments. If you look further up, you can see the Annunciation scene, where the Virgin Mary is kneeling before the Archangel Gabriel, listening to the news that she is to become the Mother of God. And a little further up is the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. What about that great green ceramic tree that stands out from the entire façade? That, my friend, is the Tree of Life, an evergreen cypress that represents Eternity. It is quite simply the legacy of the life and triumph of Christ. That is why it is covered in doves, who represent the faithful who come to God.
Can you see any other symbols? Look for the pelican at the foot of the tree. That is the primitive Christian symbol that refers to the Eucharist. The Letters JHS are Jesus’s anagram. The Star of Bethlehem and the signs of the Zodiac are placed in their position on the night Jesus was born. There is also a lamb, the symbol of innocence, and a dog, which stands for loyalty. Can you find them? Be patient and search with your heart, because the Sagrada Familia is a symbol that is, in turn, full of symbols, and everything is there for a reason.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos (2013)
Source: Own work
Author: Carlos Marcos (2013)
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