I had a wonderful day. Gloria, my tour guide, was very knowledgeable about the history in Spain. Somehow she was able to include humour with much of the information she provided. Some of the more dreary stories relating to the Spanish Civil War and the Inquisition hit home for me; my father was orphaned after my grandfather was killed in the war. I wanted to know more as my father doesn’t talk about it, and now, somehow, a lot of feelings of compassion snowballed as I was identifying to the pain of his past more intimately.
She also brought us to the Jewish Quarter and told us of the brutality and oppression during the Spanish Inquisition. Jew’s were forced to convert to Catholicism or face immediate death. They had to prove their conversions in many ways like forcing them to eat pork and making them clean their homes on Saturdays. People would leave their patio doors open so soldiers would see people cleaning instead of keeping Sabbath, which even today, Saturday is still the day thought to be kept to clean your house.
It is hard to believe the oppression of that time, which wasn’t even that long ago. Nowadays, we have much freedom to enjoy faith and religion, but because of all the past atrocities, with good reason, most have lost interest.
For the first time ever I witnessed a line up to go into a church. Hundreds of people were everywhere soaking up the beauty of La Sagrada Familia. I ignored them as I walked through the forest of columns and imagined people singing in the balconies, high above, whilst showering people below with their prayers and psalms. I took my shoes off. I wanted to completely be a part of the building and soak up its majesty. I didn’t even have to close my eyes. I felt the presence of God there. He is in the heart and soul of every creative work, an ongoing project as there are many additions to still waiting to be done. The building stands, in strength, revealing His glory. There is nothing superficial. This is a Holy place that tells a story of a people and of history. God cannot not be extinguished. The places tell a story of God; the peoples’ spirit live on through the places.