Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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msgrliptak tnQ. I was fascinated recently by a popular network TV broadcast about the Spanish architect, Antonio Gaudí. Why is it that we have not heard or seen more about him?

A. The story of Antonio Gaudí, who died in 1926, has long engaged my own interest. For the record, I have done several articles about him for the Transcript over the past few years. Perhaps the most revered architect of the 20th century, he remains a lasting icon of Barcelona and Catalonia. An artist of consummate perfection, he was also a Catholic pilgrim of saintly aspirations, whose masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, ranks among the world’s most famous cathedrals and testifies both to his extraordinary faith and artistry. (The church, which was formally dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI, draws three million visitors annually. It was planned to seat 13,000 worshipers.)

Gaudí’s genius and holiness are reflected in buildings and other projects throughout the world. To many he was the “Dante of Architecture”; LeCorbusier declared Sagrada Familia a masterpiece; his work remains unique, transcending modern forms and modes and reaching heights surpassing even the greatest of Gothic aspirations.

At the same time there are detractors; Picasso, of all artists, cautioned against his style. Evidently, one factor of his influence that is especially dismissed by an increasingly secular world is his absolute commitment to faith and poverty.

In 1998 the Archbishop of Barcelona declared him a patron of architects; his life’s accomplishments were deemed a mystical body of work only equaled by the towering Cántico Espiritual of St. John of the Cross, Spain’s greatest poet and among the world’s most dynamic spiritual figures.

Most of Gaudí’s artistic works are integrated within the City of Barcelona, instead of within museums – Barcelona today is Gaudí; the two are inseparable.

As Gaudí entered old age, he concentrated most of his genius on Sagrada Familia, even taking up residence there in a crypt. On 7 June 1926, he was hit by a tram – a public transportation vehicle. Mistaken for a pauper, he was taken to a hospital for the abandoned poor, where he was eventually identified by friends and disciples who traversed the city in search of him. “I belong here,” he protested, when efforts were made to transfer him to an upperscale infirmary. He died on 10 June, at age 73, and was buried within Sagrada Familia.

Gaudí’s accomplishments can hardly be outlined in books, let alone an occasional column. Of the many volumes and articles about him, few have been translated into English. The one in my own library is Gils Van Hensbergen’s Gaudí (HarperCollins 2001).

One final point: Gaudí was an intensely committed proponent of Catalonia, as well as its language, which at times doesn’t even sound Hispanic. He suffered from political upheavals more than once; simply for responding in his native Catalan instead of Spanish, he was once jailed. The Spanish translation of his name, I have read, is Antonio Gaudí. However the Catalan form, Antoni, is now quite common: Antoni Gaudí í Cornet.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.