Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Testing Priests´sermons at the Interior of Crypt of the Colonia Güell Church

Interior of crypt. Picture by Rolando Polo. From Rolando

I´d like to share with you this great article on the Colonia Güell church´s crypt interior. It is published in the book ¨Gaudí¨, by John Gill, p. 120. Parragon Publishing Book, 2004. Before the article, it says ¨Courtesy of AISA¨.

¨If, as seems likely, the Colonia´s churchgoers had difficulty concentrating on the liturgy while inside this Stygian marvel, Gaudí devised a way to help them focus on their devotions. In some of the most exquisite furniture he ever designed, he produced molded seats that were explicitly intended to keep the congregation alert, perhaps even on the edge of their seats. As with the organic moulding of the snake bench in the Park, the prayer benches were specially designed to keep the sitter erect and attentive. Or, perhaps to test the allure of the church and the power of the priest to keep his congregation interested in the same old sermons. With Gaudí it is sometimes impossible to tell if he is testing God, himself or everyone else on their belief. These interiors are possible evidence of Gaudí´s growing interest in the power of nature, of the existence of a very real threat to the idea of immortality offered by the church and absolute belief in God.

For the front at the rear of the chapel, Gaudí decided, for probably the first time in his career, to actually use a piece of raw nature, a giant clam-like shell, as itself rather than echoing it, copying it, or mediating it in any way. Held by three supports extending from a base of extravagant metalwork, and secured to one of the stone pillars, the font, meant to hold holy water, looks slightly impractical –but it also looks sublime. Is this Guadí´s great joke on God? In baptizing the innoncent child into the House of God, Gaudí had the priest immerse the baby in this very real and immense sea shell.
The use of the sea shell in paintings of mermaids and other creatures of the deep is a sign of the drowning power of sexual attraction –something that, apparently, Gaudí resisted his whole life, though not actually thoroughly (his one offer of marriage was rebuffed by a woman who then joined a convent). Gaudí´s intended wife gave up her sex life –and in doing so his- for God.¨

Exterior of crypt. From


  1. Very beautiful pictures.
    As regards the text, I don't understand at all why historians have to search for mysterious or sexual meanings in Gaudí's works.
    He was a child, with a powerful fancy!

  2. Dear Appello, you are right. I read the article twice and a third time while I was reproducing it, and was wondering why the would think that the baptism in this shell has to be to drown lust? Anyway, I left if very clear the article is not mine and it´s really interesting. The pictures are not mine, just in case. Thank you for your comment!



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