Imagine you are walking along the Gran Vía in Barcelona. Ambling along. Going at your own pace. Lost in your thoughts. It's a bright spring day and you are mentally going over the topics you want to discuss with your friend and confessor, Mosén Agustí Más i Folch, who you will meet at the Church of Saint Philip Neri. Watch out! You almost bumped into a fellow pedestrian, you are in your own little world. You just passed Passeig de Sant Joan and you are about to reach the crossroads with Calle Bailén. You suddenly notice a tram coming towards you and step backwards to avoid it, a bit late perhaps, but without realising another tram is coming towards you in the opposite direction. Or at least, that's what the driver of the second tram says when he is questioned.
It is 7 June 1926 and the next thing you notice is that you are lying semi-inert on the floor. You can sense dozens of people walking nearby but no one stops, everyone ignores you. You try to get up, but you can't. You try to move, but you can't. Someone lifts you off the tracks and leaves you to one the side. You vaguely recall seeing a tram. A thud. And then, nothing. You make another fruitless attempt to move, and you start to lose consciousness. Someone leans over you. A man looks at you closely; you can see him opening his mouth but you can't respond. Is he is a policeman? He is looking through your pockets to try and find some ID, you imagine. But there's nothing there. You left the house this morning as you usually do: without any ID and wearing tatty old clothes. Material goods stopped meaning anything to you a long time ago. You even made the sandals you are wearing yourself! But the policeman seems to think you are homeless.
You notice some commotion around you. It seems like the policeman is trying to stop a taxi, but without any luck. They eventually get you into the vehicle. You, who walks so far every day to avoid getting in those blasted contraptions. Where are they taking you? You don't know. You slip back into unconsciousness. Suddenly the taxi stops as you arrive at Hospital de la Santa Creu. It is a hospital for the poor, and it's clear they don't know who you are. Everything goes black again. The next day you see the face of someone you recognise: the chaplain of the Sagrada Familia! Mosén Gil Parés recognises you. He soon sounds the alarm: "This man is the esteemed architect Antoni Gaudí Cornet!". There is uproar throughout the hospital. And there is uproar across Barcelona, and throughout Catalonia. Gaudí has been mortally wounded! But it is already too late. Help has not arrived in time. You are just about to reach your 74th birthday, and with it, about to reach the gates of Heaven; this is God's plan for you. "Amen, my God, my God", is the last thing you manage to utter.
And so, on the afternoon of 10 June 1926, between 5 pm and 6 pm, just three days after the fatal accident, the death of the most distinguished architect in Modernism, and perhaps in history, was announced.
But a man of such renown couldn't really die like that, could he? In such an absurd way. Unless... his death wasn't really an accident. To start with, the tram that hit Gaudí was travelling at just 10 km/h. Why didn't the driver slow down? Why didn't anyone tell him to stop?
There are several theories about what really happened. Some blame the tram driver, who they think was an assassin hired by the Güell family so that they could avoid paying the for their last commission before the debt was due. Others believe that Gaudí was killed to order by Mosén Cinto Verdaguer, because he was jealous of Gaudí's fame. Some also blame a secret branch of the Illuminati, or even the Priory of Sion, led by the priest Bérenger Sauniére, as it is said he longed to discover the secrets of the Sagrada Familia.
Whether it was an accident or homicide, nearly all of Barcelona turned out for Gaudí's funeral. Even though his funeral was not official and it was conducted in the simple style characteristic of the architect, it was attended en masse. His coffin left the Hospital de la Santa Creu and arrived at the cathedral where the funeral mass was held. The funeral procession then headed towards the Sagrada Familia and it was there, in the Capilla del Carmen, that Gaudí's body was laid to rest. Throughout the procession, unlike on the day of the accident, Gaudí was accompanied by friends, admirers and followers, while the streets of the Catalan capital were adorned in black.
His gravestone bears the following inscription: Antonius Gaudí Cornet. Reusensis. Annos natus LXXIV, vitae exemplaris vir, eximiusque artifex, mirabilis operis hujus, templi auctor, pie obiit Barcinone dit X Junii MCMXXVI, hinc cineres tanti hominis, resurrectionem mortuorum expectant. R.I.P. Which translates as: Antoni Gaudí Cornet. From Reus. At the age of 74, a man of exemplary life, and an extraordinary craftsman, the author of this marvellous church, died piously in Barcelona on 10 June 1926; henceforward the ashes of so great a man await the resurrection of the dead. May he rest in peace.