Sagrada Familia Construction Explored

60 Minutes correspondant Lara Logan embarked on a journey into one of Spain’s greatest works in progress. The cathedral began construction back in 1882 and has been incomplete ever since.

Despite, or perhaps because of this unique status, it has been quite the crowd pleaser, even playing host to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2010. It was this visit that the Sagrada Familia was deemed to be a basilica. The consecration also marked the first time that Mass had formally been held in the building.

Although Spanish, the cathedral owes its design to an Italian, Antoni Gaudi. He became affectionately known as “God’s Architect”. His death in 1926 came when the structure was around a quarter finished. Realizing the complicated nature of his design, Gaudi constructed plaster models for others to follow in later years.

Gaudi had “gaudy” ambition for his project, according to author Gijs van Hensbergen. He noted that Gaudi wanted to illustrate the story of the Catholic Church through the structure, no easy task. Even now, the architect team tackling the project projects completion at 13 years down the line.

2011 saw an unwelcome and unexpected setback to the project when a man set fire to a portion of the structure. While initially optimistic, the construction crew at the time soon realized that the damage was, in fact, fairly serious.

Luckily, the Bonet family’s patronage has kept the Basilica alive for the masses to enjoy. Tourism generated upon completion would be quite useful to Spain.

The current representative of the family, Jordi, is quite old but still fondly remembers when he first gazed upon the church. The impact of that first visit led to his being part of the envoy that met the Pope on his visit.

The finished building will have 18 towers upon completion, and the impressive work will hopefully pay off for those that have put so much effort and funding into seeing Gaudi’s work finished.

[Image via Gettyimages]