Work is currently underway to restore the chapels in the crypt at the Sagrada Família.
The seven chapels Gaudí designed along the semi-circular perimeter of the crypt are dedicated to the family members of Jesus Christ. After restoration of the artistic elements of the Chapel of Saint Joseph was completed on his feast day, 19 March 2016, work began restoring the artistic elements of the chapels dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in October 2016.
Maintenance work has been done according to criteria backed by several studies, chemical analyses of the surrounding areas and sources from the archives –publications on Gaudí’s own techniques known in his time, interviews with experts, etc. – with the aim of returning the pieces to their original state to facilitate devotion, going beyond the museum-based focus that is typical of most restoration work.
The main tasks included restoring the baldachin and the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, with its plinth, canopy and crown.
The baldachin, an original piece made of wrought iron and sheet metal in different brass alloys, is an original work from Gaudí’s time and crowns the statue of the Sacred Heart. It takes its inspiration from the climbing Passiflora plant, or passion vine, and is shaped as a huge crown with 96 flowers. This plant is also known as the passion vine and takes its name from the passion of Christ, as Pope Paul V saw such a symbolic connection between this flower and the final days of Jesus Christ. These similarities include the fact that the flower has 10 petals, like the 10 faithful apostles present at the passion of Christ (minus Judas and Peter), five stamen representing the five wounds and three stigmas, like the three nails on the cross. Furthermore, the fruit of the Passiflora is heart-shaped and, as it is nowhere to be found on the baldachin, we can deduce that the fruit of this passion vine is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. In restoring the leaves, the aim was to return them to their original colours inspired by nature: blue on one side and gold on the other.
The wooden statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ has undergone a full restoration to breathe new life into its shapes and colours. The process has revealed the drawing of a heart, which couldn’t be seen before, with the crown of thorns, from which the Sacred Heart of Mary takes its name. The crown and its plinth were also restored. The plinth is made of wood and plaster, with screen-printing in gold. Each of these restored pieces has revealed that, under the grime, wear and tear and modifications made over the years, there was great beauty and details that give us a profound understanding of each one.