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I Wonder Why...?

I will be writing about aspects of Spanish history and their traditions. I am a very curious person and have always needed to know "why" they do it, and "how" it came about. So over the years while living in Spain I have made a conscious effort to discover "el porque de las cosas" and I will be sharing them with you. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

Overlooking Barcelona
03 June 2015 @ 12:07

 

The idea of building a Catholic church on the summit of the Mount Tibidabo overlooking Barcelona, emerged in the late 19th century amidst rumors about the construction of a Protestant church and a hotel-casino at that location. This motivated a "Board of Catholic Knights" to acquire the ownership of the field and give it to Saint John Bosco in 1886, when he was visiting Barcelona at the invitation of Dorotea de Chopitea, a great patron and promoter of the project.

 

 

From this arose the idea of a building dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a dedication very popular at that time thanks to the impetus given by Pope Leo XIII, and following in line with the church built in Rome by Bosco himself (Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio) and the famous Sacré-Cœur in Paris.

In 1886 a neo-Gothic hermitage was built, and two years later, for the Universal Exposition, the Vallvidrera road was urbanized and a pavilion of Mudejar inspiration was built beside the hermitage to serve as a viewing point for the city below. However, the project to build the church suffered a significant delay mainly because of the development of a new project to build an astronomical observatory on the summit of Tibidabo, which was eventually constructed on a nearby hill - Fabra Observatory.

Finally, on 28 December 1902, the first stone was placed in a ceremony presided by the Bishop of Barcelona, Salvador Casañas i Pagès.The crypt was built between 1903 and 1911, and the main church was built between 1915 and 1951. The church was consecrated by Bishop Gregorio Modrego Casaus during the 35th Eucharistic Congress held in Barcelona in 1952. The towers were completed afterward, with work officially ending in 1961. On 29 October 1961 the church received the title of minor basilica from Pope John XXIII.

The external appearance of the church is of a Romanesque fortress of stone from Montjuïc (the crypt), topped by a monumental neo-Gothic church accessed by two grand outdoor stairways. The upper church has a central floor with an octagonal dome on eight columns. The dome is crowned with an image of the Sacred Heart; the original work was by Frederic Marès (destroyed in 1936) and replaced in 1950 with another by Josep Miret.

 

 

The interior is divided into a nave and two aisles with semicircular apses, with stained glasses and four rose windows on the facades. In the main altar stands the great crucifix, a work by Joan Puigdollers. The windows of the presbytery are dedicated to Pius X, John the Evangelist, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, Paul the Apostle and John Bosco. 

The windows of the four towers contain the Latin phrase tibi dabo ("I'll give you"), the name of the mountain. At the level of the choir include founding saints: Marcellin Champagnat and Jean-Baptiste de La Salle on both sides of the presbytery, and Anthony Mary Claret, Joseph Calasanctius, John Bosco and Maria Domenica Mazzarello next to the main facade. The windows of the four facades are dedicated to Francis de Sales, Pius XI, Ignatius of Loyola, Francisco Javier, Pius IX, Rose of Lima, Leo XIII and Pius XII. The eight stained glasses of the dome depict scenes from the life of Jesus.



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