Rorate Caeli

The Passion of Spain - 70 years later

Near the Spanish border with France there is a small Aragonese town called Bielsa. During the terrible days of the 1936-1939 war, the parish church was ransacked and destroyed, as so many thousands of churches throughout Spain, and the Crucifix (pictured above) was burned.

So many thousands of Catholics were killed during those terrible days of unimaginable bloodshed, for the simple profession of their faith. At least 10,000 martyrs: 13 bishops, 4,184 diocesan priests and seminarians, 2,365 men religious, 285 nuns, and so many thousands of lay faithful!

Yet, it is hard to define exactly the day when it all began. Was it with the fall of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and, with it, the monarchy and the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931? Was it with the anticlerical Constitution of December 9, 1931? Was it with the Anarchist-Communist revolts in Asturias in 1934 (which gave the Spanish land its first bright group of martyrs of the 20th century, canonized in 1999)?

In January 1936, the economical crisis and social turmoil caused the downfall of the conservative government. All leftist parties, even those movements which rejected democracy at all costs and whose only aim was to install the "dictatorship of proletariat", against the "Vaticanist reaction", united under the banner of the Popular Front. On February 16, 1936, the upheaval which had dominated the Spanish Republic since its beginning, caused in no small part by the agitations of Communist and Communist-friendly groups (which had culminated in the Asturian revolts of 1934) assured the election of a leftist majority to the Cortes, under the leadership of Manuel Azaña.

The left wing Spanish parties were bitterly divided among themselves, but one thing united them all: a deep, incontrollable, and hateful anticlericalism. Not since the French Revolution had such a clear hatred of the Catholic Church been so prominent in any Western nation: the passion of Spain was about to begin, 70 years ago today.


  1. And the world still knows nothing about it, or "knows" that it was just a some fascists getting their comeuppance from freedom fighters. Tolkien complained at the time that he couldn't even get C. S. Lewis to take it seriously: Lewis dismissed it in his opinion because it was just a bunch of papists getting what they deserved.

    And the Spanish, what are they doing? Remembering the ghastly event and singing hymns of gratitude to Franco for saving them from a fate like the Soviet Russians?

  2. It sickens me to see how the War and Franco are portrayed in historical and popular accounts; complete falsehoods are the order of the day.

    Of course, being in Protestant America, which aided the 'Republic,' I can't expect people to half-understand what it was really about. Same with the French Revolution and so on.


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