Possible sainthood for 'God's architect'
Antoni Gaudi, the eccentric Catalan architect responsible for Barcelona's emblematic basilica, has been known for decades as "God's architect".
Today, as Pope Benedict XVI visits to the city to consecrate the Sagrada Familia, devotees hope the moniker will become more apt: they hope he will be made a saint.
Ever since 1992, the Vatican has been trying to decide whether Gaudi deserves to be beatified -- a key step on the way to what could eventually become sainthood.
Now, eight decades after the architect died under the wheels of a tram on his way to work, those who are fighting for his beatification say they have proof he can also produce miracles.
"There are now two examples that are being studied," said Lluis Bonet -- Armengol, the parish priest at the Sagrada Familia's underground crypt. Evidence has already been provided that the Sagrada Familia's soaring towers and colourful ceramic adornments have converted some people to Catholicism.
But while there is little doubt about Gaudi's devout nature, the Vatican needs proof that he can intercede with God to bring about the miraculous.
That "proof" may finally have come with the case of Montserrat Barenys, a former lecturer who claims her sight in one eye was miraculously restored after praying to the architect for help.
Ms Barenys said she was diagnosed with a perforated retina and she prayed to Gaudi for help and was suddenly cured. "For me that was a miracle, even if it has not yet been proved officially," she said.
Architect Jose Manuel Almuzara, who has led the campaign to have Gaudi beatified, warned that the miracle was not yet accepted by the Vatican."The medical specialists have yet to come up with their verdict," he explained.
Mr Almuzara said the Pope's visit would increase the numbers who prayed to Gaudi -- and so the chances of a miracle happening. He added that, just as Gaudi would defend his slowness to complete the Sagrada Familia, so those pushing for his passage to sainthood would have to be patient.