The Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family
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The Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family is large, Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain. Although the church is incomplete, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November of 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While construction of Sagrada Familia, the church's Spanish name, began in 1882, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi took over in 1883, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style - combining Gothic and curvilinear, Art Nouveau forms with ambitious structural columns and arches.
Gaudi devoted his last years to the project and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Familia's construction progressed slowly as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War - only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the mid-point in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026 - the centennial of Gaudí's death.
The basilica has a long and divisive history amongst the citizens of Barcelona: over the fear that it might compete with Bercelona's cathedral, over Gaudi's design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudi's death disregarded his design. Recently, the proposed high-speed rail link to France also brought up controversy over fears that it would disturb the basilica's stability.
Art critic Rainer Zerbst said of the basilica: "It is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of the art."
Pulitzer Prize winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger called it: "The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages."
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