Temple of the Sagrada Familia: The Nativity Facade--page 1 (of four pages)

Antoni Gaudí

The Charity Portico

This portico, the central one, is the largest on the facade. The entrance is divided by the Column of Jesus, with the scene of the nativity as its capital. Above this entrance are the chorus of baby angels and the angel musicians flanking them. On each side of the door sculptural scenes depict the Adoration of the Magi and the Adoration of the Shepherds. The star of Bethlehem rises above the column.


The Nativity

Upon the capital of the Column, baby Jesus is wrapped by Joseph and Mary and flanked by the ox and the mule. At the bottom is written in Latin: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill". (sculptor: Jaume Busquets) The column itself, that represents a bundle of palm leaves, gives the genealogy of Jesus in a ribbon wrapped around it.


Palm-front capitals; Turtle and tortoise

Two massive columns flanking the central portal are topped with palm fronds. Each seems to be supported by a turtle or tortoise. The sea turtle with flippers is looking out to sea. The land tortoise with a paw is looking landward. According to one source, the turtles symbolize permanence or stability of the cosmos.


The Chorus of baby angels

"The original sculptures were made of plaster and were destroyed during the Civil War. Those that can now be seen are an interpretation by sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, based on the ideas that Gaudi left behind" (The Expiatory Temple 69). Etsuro Sotoo is the author of the 15 Angels of the Nativity Facade, the 6 musicians and 9 forming the choir singers.
Etsuro Sotoo, Japanese sculptor in the Temple since 1978, is the author of the sculptures of the six Musician Angels of the Nativity Facade, three with classical instruments, bassoon, harp and violin, and three with popular musical instruments, sitar, drum and bagpipe.

Go to page 2--Charity Portico.
Return to introduction and index for Sagrada Familia.

Work cited: Josep Maria Carandell. El Temple de la Sagrada Familia. Sant LLuís: Triangle Postals S. L., 1997.
Anonymous. The Expiatory Temple of Sagrada Familia. Dos de Arte Ediciones. Guias Visuales. n.d.

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