Though not known as a practicing Catholic in his earlier years, Gaudí is said to have had a conversion of heart after he began working on the Sagrada Familia. As the work on the basilica progressed, Gaudí became known for his fasting, asceticism, and devotion to God.
In the decades after starting his work on the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí increasingly devoted himself to prayer and the sacraments along with his work on the basilica.
He was on the way to his daily confession when he was hit by a tram, the accident that resulted in his death three days later.
Nora Heimann, a professor of art history at The Catholic University of America, told CNA that Gaudí’s canonization would bring many architects and artists joy to see one of the most renowned architects included in the canon of saints.
She likened Gaudí to other renowned Catholic artists throughout history such as Michelangelo and Vincent van Gogh, whose faith journeys were complex but whose work was deeply inspired by their Christianity nonetheless.
“These are artists that are really deeply informed by their faith, and the act of creation becomes an expression in certain ways of their spiritual journey,” Heimann said. “Their life’s work as artists is a part of their faith journey. That’s really a part of what they’re working out, is where is God in the world? Where is God in our lives? Where is the transcendent?”
According to Heimann, Gaudí’s works evidence his search for God. For all who view his works, they bring out the longing for beauty and transcendence, she said.
“Faith doesn’t lie flat on the page. It gets up and moves,” Heimann continued. “God is the best artist of all, and I think artists like Gaudí that look to nature to find that beauty and then try and capture that beauty themselves in a completely innovative way. Even if you’re not religious, you feel a kind of sense of transcendence.”