UPDATE: La Voz De Barcelona has more photos of the fire damage. Here’s one:
I’ve begun to follow Catholic news in Spain more closely, because I hope to attend World Youth Day in Madrid this August and I want to know as much about the Catholic culture there as possible.
One of the most disturbing trends I have noticed is how frequently churches and other holy places there seem to be attacked. My first impression is that it happens far more often there than it does in the U.S.
Take, for instance, today’s attack on Barcelona’s most famous basilica, Sagrada Familia (alert readers will remember that this was the basilica Pope Benedict consecrated last November when he visited):
Almost 2000 people were evacuated from one of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions on Tuesday, after a suspected arsonist started a small fire inside Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia basilica.
Four people were treated for smoke inhalation and the fire caused what appears to be significant damage to the basilica’s sacristy where it was ignited [see photo above left], a Catalan regional police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with force rules.
… Local police said a 65-year-old Barcelona resident was arrested after a group of tourists raised the alarm when they saw smoke coming out of the basement and spotted a person running away. [-AP] [The UK Telegraph has more]
The Courtier adds more details in an email:
The damage tally at this point is:
– smoke damage/smell throughout the entire building but particularly in the crypt
– all of the vestments and furniture in the sacristy destroyed (none by Gaudi)
– walls of the sacristy have been blackened
– speculation that all or part of the basilica’s electrical system
will have to be replaced due to smoke damage.
Luckily the masonry construction of the basilica should ensure that no significant structural damage has occurred.
But there have been many other Spanish churches and holy places that have been attacked recently.
World Youth Day is a time of cultural and spiritual renewal in every country that hosts it. Invariably, radical secularists try to derail the celebrations. So we need to pray for Spain and for the renewal of the church in Spain in the coming months!