On June 7, 1926, the architect Antoni Gaudí left his workshop at the church of Sagrada Família in Barcelona to walk to the nearby church of St. Philip Neri. He was going to pray—his daily practice—when he was hit by a streetcar as he crossed the tracks on the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. No one in the crowd recognized the renowned architect—he carried no identification papers and was so shabbily dressed, untidy, and gaunt that everyone assumed he was homeless. The police took him to the hospital for charity cases. There he lingered, suffering from broken ribs and internal bleeding.
His friends tracked him down the next day, but by then it was too late. In keeping with his long-standing wish to die poor, he refused the...
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