Bringing Light into Suffering with the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

As the horrible shooting massacre was taking place in Orlando, just a couple of hours drive from me, I was up late writing and researching for a new blog post. Ironically, the post was to be about pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion; about suffering and sin and gratitude. At the moment I can’t write about that subject, as my heart is too immersed in the suffering of these many souls, the living and the dead, the family and friends, the tourists and town and state and country. As these feelings of profound grief diminish, I will be able to return to the topic without my heart rending even more sharply.

Rather than focusing on the worst that man does in our world, of the evil and sin and violence that man has the capacity to perpetrate on man, instead I am sharing with you a beautiful basilica that shows forth some of the beautiful, good and holy that mankind is gifted to create. Even if you dislike the architecture of the basilica, it is an example that shows forth the creative power that God endowed us with.

In lieu of Facebook kitten videos to cheer yourself up, I invite you take a photo pilgrimage and praise God for the beautiful creativity with which he endowed man. It’s a little thing to look and see, and to give God glory and honor for the gifts He has given us. And so I present to you:

The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

When I first saw a photo of this incredible Spanish basilica in Barcelona, it reminded me of one of the intricate sand castles I’ve seen along the beaches. It’s as though the architect took wet sand and drizzled it down the front of the Nativity facade.

sand castle-like basilica photo by Anthony Lilles

Photo by Anthony Lilles of


This basilica was begun in 1882 and it is expected to be completed by 2026, according to the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia Facebook page.  When Antoni Gaudi designed this intricately detailed church, he knew that it would not be completed in his lifetime. 

black and white photo of Sagrada Familia taken in 1933 shows work under way

Sagrada Familia 1933, via Official Facebook Page

Gaudi didn’t just set out to design a shockingly unique work of architecture and testament to his own creativity. The details are symbolic, meaningful, and express the theology of our faith without words. To look up, even by looking at the pictures and not being there, is to lift one’s heart towards God.

Sanctuary looking up towards ceiling. Columns line the path to the alter.


“The temple as a whole, as well as being a place for divine worship,
will artistically represent the truths of religion
and the glorification of God and His Saints.”
Antoni Gaudí

Facing the alter with the yellow umbraculum hanging high from the ceiling Note the hanging golden-yellow umbrella that indicates this is a Major Basilica. This symbol is only bestowed on churches that have been elevated to the rank of a basilica by our Holy Father.

Stained glass rising with golden light shining through

The church will have three facades, three faces of the building with doorways for people to enter.
This is the Passion Facade below.
It reminds me of Space Mountain at Disney. 

The Passion facade shows the suffering of Christ through the way of the cross with stark bone-like lines

Facebook 5-19-16 blue

Thank you, Creator, for the beauty of creativity that you have given to us. We glorify your generosity, we worship You in wonder, we praise Your Holy Name. All honor to our Lord Jesus Christ who saved us from death and sin, praise to the Holy Spirit who breaths life into us moment by moment.
Praise to the God who leans down in His mercy to comfort those afflicted, those who are grieving, those who feel guilty for surviving while others perished, and those who have passed away from life into death.
God’s love endures forever.

Detail of soaring ceiling with smooth marble contrasted by flower-like sculpted details

Photo by Anthony Lilles of Used with permission

Interiour wing-like butresses

The detailing of this ceiling looks like a bird with wings raised in flight. See the feathers? 

 Did you not know? Had you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, he created the remotest parts of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding is beyond fathoming.
He gives strength to the weary, he strengthens the powerless.
Youths grow tired and weary, the young stumble and fall,
but those who hope in Yahweh will regain their strength,
they will sprout wings like eagles,
though they run they will not grow weary, though they walk they will never tire.
Isaiah 40:28-31

My Prayer in this Time of Suffering

May we all use the wings of prayer that our Good God has given us, to rise above the suffering,violence, and ugliness that surrounds us and, anchored in our faith, may we be witnesses to the One who gives us strength in our weariness,
strengthens the powerless, and loves beyond our understanding.
May God accept our prayers and sacrifices for the victims, both living and dead, for the family, the friends, the first responders and all who are grieving, traumatized, and suffering.

I believe in God…


All images of from Wikepedia, unless otherwise indicated. Sources used for the post were: Wikepedia, Basilica de la  Sagrada Familia Facebook page, and

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