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Sagrada Família hosts state funeral for Alps air tragedy, where 53 Catalan residents died

A memorial ceremony for the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane, 53 of whom were living in Catalonia, has taken place on Monday evening at Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, the world famous church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. In the end, the ceremony also included a few words from representatives of the Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities, after the controversy surrounding the Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach, who had initially planned a solely Catholic ceremony. The mass was attended by relatives and close friends of 52 victims. Out of the 150 victims on the Germanwings plane, which was flying between Barcelona and Düsseldorf and was intentionally crashed in the Alps, 47 had Spanish nationality and 72 were German citizens. The ceremony in Barcelona was held in Catalan, Spanish, German, French, English, Greek and Italian. It was attended by the King of Spain, the Spanish PM and the Catalan President.

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27 April 2015 10:06 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The memorial ceremony for the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane, 53 of whom were living in Catalonia, has taken place on Monday evening at Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, the world famous church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. In the end, the ceremony also included a few words from representatives of the Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities, after the controversy surrounding the Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach, who had initially planned a solely Catholic ceremony. The mass was attended by relatives and close friends of 52 victims. Some 1,000 people, including relatives, friends, members of the authorities and rescue teams, attended the restricted event, which was broadcast live. Out of the 150 victims on the Germanwings plane, which was flying between Barcelona and Düsseldorf and was intentionally crashed in the Alps, 47 had Spanish nationality and 72 were German citizens. The ceremony in Barcelona was held in Catalan, Spanish, German, French, English, Greek and Italian. It was attended by the King of Spain, Felipe VI; his wife, Queen Letizia; the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy; the Catalan President, Artur Mas; and many other official representatives and government members, from both the Catalan and Spanish levels. The ceremony was also attended by the CEOs of Lufthansa and Germanwings, as well as by the ambassadors of all the countries that had citizens among the victims.


The moving ceremony started with the arrival of the authorities at the church interior. The King and Queen of Spain sat to the right side of the altar, separated from the rest of the public representatives and the priests celebrating the mass, which was said by the Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach.

Then, 150 pupils of a high school from Llinars del Vallès (Greater Barcelona) placed one candle for each of the 150 victims on the steps of the altar. A group of 16 German students had been on an exchange week in the high school before taking the Germanwings flight back home. Representatives of the Catalan school also attended the memorial ceremony that took place in Cologne's cathedral 10 days ago.

A Catholic mass took place, although a psalm was also sung in Greek by an Orthodox priest, in order to include the Eastern churches. In fact, the ceremony combined a total of 7 languages: Catalan, Spanish, German, French, English, Greek and Italian. The organisation took great care in guaranteeing broad language diversity, after Catalan had not been included in neither the ceremony held in Cologne, nor on the memorial plaque set at the mountain where the crash occurred, despite 53 of the 150 victims living in Catalonia.

Initially, the Archbishop of Barcelona had not prioritised representing as much as possible in the ceremony the different faiths of the victims; he had planned a solely Catholic ceremony, not foreseeing the inclusion of other rituals or words from representatives of other religions. After all the Catalan political parties protested, including the Catalan Government, as well as progressive associations of Catalonia's Catholic church, in the end, other religions were also represented. Besides the words from the Orthodox priest, once the Catholic mass had finished, representatives from the Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths addressed the audience with some words aimed at the victim relatives' comfort.

After these short addresses, the King, the Queen, the Archbishop, the main political authorities and the representatives of the three other religions went to pay their respects to the relatives of the victims. The King was the first person in a long line of state representatives that moved along the rows and was kissing, hugging and shaking hands with the relatives of the victims, one by one, who were occupying the first rows of one side of the central naive and who were visibly moved. The ceremony lasted an hour-and-a-half and the paying of respects to the victims’ relatives lasted almost one hour.

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  • The King and Queen of Spain arriving at the Sagrada Família, being welcomed by the Spanish PM and the Catalan President (by EFE Pool)

  • The state funeral at the Sagrada Família Basilica (by EFE Pool)

  • The King and Queen of Spain arriving at the Sagrada Família, being welcomed by the Spanish PM and the Catalan President (by EFE Pool)
  • The state funeral at the Sagrada Família Basilica (by EFE Pool)
Sagrada Família hosts state funeral for Alps air tragedy, where 53 Catalan residents died