Rorate Caeli

The Passion of Spain - Never forget

"Naturally, I was not in favour of the Communists. How could I be, when if I had been a Spaniard they would have murdered me and my family and friends?"
Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm

Yes, a Protestant Briton, who really knew what a "Fine hour" was, better understood the murderous forces involved in the Spanish Civil War than many a Catholic in our days!

So that Catholics may never forget the terrible persecutions faced by our brethren in those harsh Spanish days of the last six months of 1936, one is bound to remember the names of the bishops which, by this day 70 years ago, had already been murdered by the Republican forces in barely one month of suffering:

-July 27, 1936: Eustaquio Nieto y Martín, Bishop of Sigüenza. Shot dead by Republican militiamen (who had kidnapped him from the Episcopal Seminary) in the road to Estriénaga.

-August 5, 1936: Salvio Huix Miralpeix, Bishop of Lérida. Taken by the Republican commitee of Lerida, with 21 other men, to the local Cemetery, Don Salvio Huix asked to be the last one to be executed. After blessing the other victims, he was shot and buried.

-August 9, 1936: Cruz Laplana y Laguna, Bishop of Cuenca. Taken hostage by some Cuenca Socialist activists, he was shot after being taken out of the bus in which he was being transported, in the fifth kilometer of the road from Cuenca to Villar de Olalla. His last recorded words were: "I know you will kill me, but if my life is necessary, I offer it for Spain ... Do you believe that there is no Heaven? There is a Heaven, my sons! Do you believe that there is no hell? There is a hell, my sons! ... You may kill me: I leave you my body, but my soul will go to Heaven ... I forgive you and in Heaven I will pray for you." His secretary, Father Fernando Español, was killed with him. The body of the bishop was brutally disfigured after his execution.

-August 9, 1936: Florentino Asensio y Barroso, Bishop of Barbastro. The bishop was executed near the road to Sariñena, on the outside wall of a chapel. A line of other unwanted men was executed by the Republican militia at the same spot.

-August 9, 1936: Miguel Serra y Sucarrats, Bishop of Segorbe. Before being executed by Socilaist forces, close to a road near the hamlet of Vall de Uxó, Don Miguel Serra proclaimed, "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"

-August 12, 1936: Manuel Basulto y Jiménez, Bishop of Jaén. He was executed by Red forces together with his sister, Teresa, his faithful assistant for many years. Before being executed, Don Manuel Basulto fell on his knees and said, "Forgive, o Lord, my sins, and also forgive my murderers". His sister yelled, "This is infamous! I am a poor woman!". "Do not worry", the militia leader told her, "a woman shall kill you".

-August 12, 1936: Manuel Borrás Ferré, Auxiliary Bishop of Tarragona. After many days in jail and after he had been separated from Cardinal Vidal y Barraquer, Archbishop of Tarragona, who managed to escape the country, he was "convicted" by a "People's court". On August 12, Don Manuel Borrás was taken in a truck to the place of his execution, near the town of Coll de Lilla. After killing the holy man, the Reds covered his body with some wood and set it on fire.

-August 22, 1936: Narciso de Esténaga y Echevarría, Bishop (Prelate) of Ciudad Real. Don Narciso de Esténaga was arrested by Republican forces in the morning of August 22, with his faithful secretary, Father Julio Melgar. Details of their execution are unknown, but their bodies were found in the afternoon of the same day, by the river Guadiana, near the town of Peralvillo del Monte.

Before the end of the month, two other bishops would be murdered, as we shall see next week. Through the example of these episcopal martyrs, we pay homage to the thousands of priests and laymen martyred in Spain in the months of July and August of 1936.

The Forces of Enlightenment and Progress (Spain, 1936): Republican supporters and their sacrilege

Source for the information on the Spanish Martyrs: Antonio Montero Moreno, Historia de la persecución religiosa en España - 1936-1939.


  1. It has always puzzled me how Catholics could support republicanism in any form. No place is this more evident than in the case of the Spanish Civil war. And yet we are saddled with a Pope and episcopal regime that supports Enlightenment Fundamentalist principles including republicanism in the face of all the barbarous acts done in the name of this decadent ideology.

    Today when we face the horrors of Islamic fundamentalism, we need to reflect on the Enlightenment fundamentalism we ourselves tacitly accept everyday by backing the current ecclesiastical regime by our presence in the Churches under its jurisdiction and cash support. Can we say we are better than these islamicists? They claim— though they lie— that what they do is for the sake of God.

    But Enlightenment Fundamentalism and its attendant disasters— the terror of the French Revolution, the long misery of the slave regime in the United States sanctioned by its freemasonic constitution, the killing of our co-religionists in the Spanish civil war, the recent war in Lebanon— for whose sake are its acts perpetrated?

  2. The Holy Father has actually, quite shockingly for modern ears, made clear that enlightenment is secularization, a new wave of which the West has been experiencing. In his recent interview he said:

    "I'd say, first of all, that Germany is part of the West, with its own characteristic coloring obviously, and that in the western world today we are experiencing a wave of new and drastic enlightenment or secularization, whatever you like to call it. It's become more difficult to believe because the world in which we find ourselves is completely made up of ourselves and God, so to speak, doesn't appear directly anymore. We don't drink from the source anymore, but from the vessel which is offered to us already full..."

  3. Yes, the Holy Father has always acknowledged that we live in a world informed by Enlightenment principles, but he has never supported those principles. Read his Introduction to Christianity, especially the first chapter. The Catholic Church is NOT under Enlightenment "fundamentalism," whatever that even means. And what are the barbarous acts supposedly done by the Church in the name of Enlightenment ideology, proklos? And yes, we are better than the Islamic fascists, proklos.

  4. SPAIN

    Spain, proud, Spain,
    Where once
    Christ reigned

    You've now,
    Sunk low
    As hell.

    Spain, proud, Spain,
    Was all in vain,
    Where once ruled Isabel?

    Spain, proud, Spain,
    Royal-purpled grained,
    St. James, the mosques he cleared.

    Spain, proud, Spain,
    What have you gained?
    A land of queens, all queered!

  5. Good article, but I thought that reference to Mario Loyola’s NRO comment (via radtrad) was a little unfair. Loyola's comment was a inanely polemical, but he wasn’t expressing approval for the communists, much less all their various atrocities. He was suggesting that leftists used to be more principled than they are today. In other words, Loyola was making a very inept historical analogy in order to throw a cheap shot at the Michael Moore’s and Howard Dean’s: "At least you people used to stand for something."

    I don’t think it’s unfair to criticize Loyola’s comments (which are fairly stupid), but it is unfair for radtrad to conclude that Loyola and "NeoConCatholics" support the communists and their murder of priests and religious.

    The Churchill quote seems to suggest that he had just finished talking about the atrocities of the fascist regime: As in, "the fascists were terrible, but naturally I was not in favor of the communists..." New Catholic, was this the context of his quote?

    If this is the case, his quote really isn’t that different from Loyola, who obviously was saying not "communism is good," but "fascism is bad." The communists were right INASMUCH as they opposed fascism whereas their modern ideological progeny lack even this amount of integrity. Now I don’t know whether it's valid to say that modern American liberals have less integrity than Spanish revolutionaries, but I AM sure that this is the point Loyola was trying to make.

  6. Not at all, because Churchill (in The Gathering Storm and elsewhere when he spoke about the Spanish Civil War) makes clear the fact that the anti-Communist side of the War was NOT "Fascist", but more accurately Nationalist and supported by the Church. He was personally neutral in the Spanish Civil War, but he recognized the greater atrocities and provocations of the Republican side, and names such Socialist provocations as the main cause of the conflict (unlike so many of his contemporaries, including deluded Catholics, such as Maritain, who did not perceive --or did not want to perceive -- the degree of Communist contamination reached by the Spanish Republic).

    Regarding what Mr Loyola "intended" to say, I have no way of reading inside his mind; what he actually wrote is what is actually written...

  7. Thanks for remebering those who gave their lives for the faith.

    Sixtus V

  8. I'm confused. What's this article and this Loyola quote being referred to?

  9. Just click on "days", in the end of "... Catholic in our days", and you will understand the comment, Mr Potter.

  10. Aha! Wow, that hyperlink was completely invisible to my eyes.

    Hmm, well, in charity I will just say that this is at best a case of Loyala's own "communication problem," or else he's just plumb iggernit about what was going on in Spain. "Finest hour"? Fighting to establish an anti-Christian bloodthirsty soulless dictatorship? If that was their finest hour, I hope we never live to see what they Left would do on their bad days.

  11. Ha! Good point, Potter.

    If you're right NC--and I suspect you very well might be--this shows the degree to which this affair is grossly and almost universally misunderstood. "Conventional wisdom" is that the Stalin-backed communists were fighting the Hitler-backed fascists as a prelude to the Second World War. Are you saying this is actually "plumb iggernit"?

    If so, the problem certainly goes far beyond Loyola and NeoConCatholics, who are just reflecting "conventional stupidity" as it were.

    In Loyola's case, I think he's really just throwing a cheap shot. Follow the links all the way to his original comments and I think you'll see what I mean. At any rate, it's ridiculous to conclude from Loyola's comments that he is profoundly aware of the nature and degree of the Passion of Spain.

  12. Don't misunderstand me, New Catholic, saying that the Spanish civil war was the left's "finest hour" is terribly stupid, but it does not imply that the writer really supported the Communists or much less the killing of priests and religious.

    Loyola never "actually wrote" anything of the sort. Thank you for the clarification of Churchill's opinion, but why was he neutral? Why didn't he support the "nationalists" more than he did?

  13. VC II's secret deal with USSR not to condemn communism is made all the more perfidious by what we can learn from the histroy of this violent conflictual ideology in China, Russia and Spain, as elsewhere. Not to condemn is absolutely inexplicable as it is unforgivable. However, it is entirely in keeping with post-conciliar political logic.

  14. Well, for better or worse (I'm inclined to the latter), Vatican II didn't condemn anything, Communism included. I know why the Council Fathers decided against the issuing of canons and anathemas -- they wanted to formulate their teaching in a positive fashion and to eschew accompanying negative formulations -- but I suspect there'd have been a good deal less confusion or chaos if they'd done so. Like it or not, sometimes you've just got to say "No!"

  15. NC, thanks for this excelent post. I always wondered why so many martyrs and all that bloodshed did not seem to produce more palpable fruits in Spain. Maybe it is because that particular period of time was just another battle in a very long war that, even though that particular battle was won in 1939 in Spain, the Catholic Church is loosing. A war that is beeing fought for the souls. In short: even though Communists lost (thanks, I imagine, to the martyr´s blood so generously spread) the aftermath saw the father of lies as the victor, and thus all this period was (and is) ignored by the general public. It is as if after the general persecution suffered by the Church in the first three centuries, paganism was triumphant and all those martyrs were forgotten.
    One can not but wonder if those martyrs were not betrayed after all, by their generals, in a "peace" table.

  16. Mack- do you think the following comment from Pope John XXIII's opening speech is "inexplicable" or "unforgivable"? And if so, can you provide some evidence that your opinion reflects the teaching of the Catholic Church?

    "[The Spouse of Christ] considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations."

  17. I am a Chicano of the 3rd generacion navigating a world of 'institutional ignorance'. Being part of this contemporary edifice, I have spent half of my intellectual life de-evolving my education and building into a humanist context a personal consciousness able to be carried through a life (my life)now being lived within a world of extraordinary stress and pressure on individual freedoms. Where i am going with this is that I have begun to adjust the historically traditional view of my Chicano indoctrination away from a basis supported by social revolution in Mexico, and turn to a more world view of the effects and conformities brought on by historical events affecting Spain.

    Following a phrase written on a CDV of two children exclaiming their executive in 1936, I stumbled upon this blog that has provided views that begins to clarify for me the nuances of the trauma, horror and tribulations of the Spanish problem preceding WWII.

    Since I am viewed as a source of understanding in my City of things involving the Chicano diaspora, I am fortunate to be able to be exposed to views and comments coming from individuals that have native experience of this part of world history.

    Since I have begun looking at history through the lenses of tradition and art, I need as much of what is offered through this blog as I can get. Muchas gracias.


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