Rorate Caeli

70 years ago

March 29, 1939. Valencia, the capital and last stronghold of the Spanish Communist and Socialist forces is conquered by the federation of forces under Francisco Franco, whose government had already been recognized by most Western powers in the preceding months. The most brutal persecution of Catholics ever recorded is over after more than 30 terrible months. The intercession of the martyrs had been stronger than the might of the Soviet Union.
(Image: Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving for the end of the war - Valencia, May 14, 1939)


  1. Anonymous12:58 AM

    It's such a shame that Franco is vilified by so many. I was taught to equate him to Hitler and Stalin. But that's public education for ya.

  2. Son of Trypho2:13 AM

    That equation would be unfair. However in saying that, Franco did utilise German forces in his war which was unfortunate. It is however somewhat mitigated by the fact that he was fighting the Republicans backed by the USSR (Stalin).

  3. Adeodatus2:13 AM

    Viva Cristo Rey!

    But I'd hesitate to lionize Franco. It's too bad that Mola perished in a plane crash, or the final outcome for Spain might have been more Catholic.

  4. Arnold Reeves7:43 AM

    How much blood and suffering might have been avoided if Britain had done the decent thing and given Franco diplomatic recognition back in 1936. But one can always rely on anti-Catholicism as the fundamental motor of British foreign (to say nothing of domestic) policy. When Britain is in the hands of Labour, the anti-Catholicism is overt and malignant. When it is in the hands of pseudo-Conservatives, the anti-Catholicism is overt, malignant, and incompetent.

  5. Spain is in urgent need now of intercession of its martyrs from saving their society of secularism, hedonism, abortion, homosexual marriage and defiance to church teachings.

    I think there will be another turbulent persecution of the Catholic faithful in Spain but in a different way that will match the 1930's persecution.

    Remember the saying "history repeats itself."

  6. Anonymous12:54 PM

    ¡Viva España!

  7. Anonymous1:12 PM

    I need to contact the blogmaster due to a security problem, but don't know how to do it...

    Could you help me?

    Thanks a lot!

  8. Anonymous5:01 PM

    Yes, history repeats itself. Especially when you fail to learn its lessons.

  9. Anonymous, the blog owner's email address is newcatholic "at"

  10. conte rezzoni6:40 PM

    "I think there will be another turbulent persecution of the Catholic faithful in Spain but in a different way that will match the 1930's persecution"

    I think there are already mechanisms of a subtly discrimination of the faithful in spain today. to declare himself a catholic can be fatal for the career and social wellbeing in various spheres of the spanish society. But of course the number of faitfuls has drastically declined in the last 20 years and observant catholics are a vanishing minority. I lived in franquist spain from 1952-1974 and again between 2002-2008 and I could notice how the society underwent a sad change. the country was almost unrecognizablefor me.

  11. conte rezzoni8:14 PM

    Francisco Franco was neither a Fascist nor a butcherly dictator. His victory over godless bolshevism and his hereafter authorotarian régime promoted the catholic religion. Nothing else matters.

  12. conte rezzoni8:38 PM

    Pius XII in his telegram to Francisco Franco, April 1st, just about four weeks after ascending the supreme pontificate: "By lifting our hearts to God we together with your Excellency give thanks for the much desired victory of Catholic Spain. We hope that this precious land, now that peace has finally been attained, will return to the old Catholic traditions that made it so great. We grant your Excellency and the entire noble Spanish people our apostolic blessing."

  13. Adeodatus8:49 PM

    Franco was not unambiguously our friend. Even while our Catholic heroes were shedding their blood to defend the Church in Spain, Franco's fascists were making cynical political moves, seizing the property and offices of the Catholic party, etc.

    If you want to find out about the real heroes of the Civil War, go here:

  14. Anonymous9:18 PM

    "Franco's fascists"? Franco was never a fascist. What he was, and this was perhaps unexpected, was a consummate juggler of mutually antagonistic movements which were united only in one thing:
    hatred of the international Left.
    Once victory was won, it took a genius to hold Spain together for over thirty-five years. Franco did this with astonishing skill, now favoring the Falangist side of his support, now the Catholic, now the monarchist.
    It worked brilliantly, and gave Spain one of the longest periods of peace it had known since the Revolution.
    One should not forget that, like most of us, Franco grew more devout as he aged. He also became more traditionally right wing: his chosen successor was Admiral Carrero Blanco, a daily communicant, and a man whose own political sympathies were, perhaps unfortunately, closer to those of prominent members of Opus Dei at the time than to those of the Falangist old guard.
    His assassination in 1973 hastened Franco's own death, and fatally shook the confidence of the regime, thus ushering in the era of compromise which has led straight to the atheist and abortionist nightmare which is Zapatero's Spain.

  15. Adeodatus, your zeal is encouraging, but please ease off the harsh rhetoric.

  16. Anonymous10:08 PM

    Since Jordanes censors everything I write, I hope that at least he will read this message and, in justice, retract his last comment on the thread he's now closed.

    The term masorete, which has never been a pejorative, originally referred to scholars who were knowledgeable about the masorah, or who contributed to its composition. (It's not nasty to call people scholars.) However, several on-line dictionaries, such as the one at point out a second definition in an extended sense: "someone versed in the masorah". It can refer in an extended sense to anyone who follows the masorah or believes in it. This is a natural way of extending meaning in English. An ending in -ete (or -ite, -ist, &c.) can usually refer to a person who is an expert in something or, more loosely, anyone associated with that thing. Jordanes should consult the O.E.D. under -ite and its equivalents (-ist, -ete, &c.). It means 'one connected with or belonging to'. Masorete and Masorite are variants of each other (see O.E.D.) and 'masorete' is, in fact, a malformation (Masoreth being etymologically better as a root); it can therefore, by common use of the suffix, mean anyone connected to the masorah.

    I have never used the term in a pejorative sense and Jordanes is dead wrong to suggest otherwise. He owes me an apology for claiming this. He is implying that I have intended insult where no insult was intended. I use the terms Jews and masoretes interchangeably. The first is used as a polite convention because that is the term masoretes use to name themselves in English. However, theologically-speaking, Christians are the true Jews, the inheritors of the promise. I therefore use the term masorete to refer to the FACT that most Jews today follow the masorah. There is nothing incorrect or impolite about it. I use it merely to signify the fact that most Jews today follow a religion which was formulated in the Early Middle Ages (before the tenth century) largely as a reaction against Christianity.

    Christianity is the true Judaism, the fulfilment of the promise; it is the only legitimate continuation of the True Faith of the Old Testament.


  17. Adeodatus10:18 PM

    My apologies, Jordanes.

    What I want to say is, I prefer the loyalties of Opus Dei, true Catholic men, over the loyalties of the Fascists.

    The true heroes of the Civil War were the Carlist Requetes, who fought not for the distant ideals of secular hegelianism, but for God's Church. Sadly, Franco was not much of a friend to them.

    Also, let us remember that the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva, is a canonized saint of the Catholic Church.

  18. Mr. Perkins, your misuse of the word "masorete" as your preferred name for "Jew" is at best a difficult-to-understand idiosyncrasy of yours. No one else calls any Jews "masoretes" unless they are referring to the Masoretes of history.

    Denying a people the name by which they and everyone else, including the authors of Sacred Scripture and the Holy Catholic Church, refer to them cannot be anything but insulting, whether you intend it that way or not. You’ve been asked to stop it. Your contributions here are as a rule intelligent, insightful and thought-provoking, and I hope they will continue. Nevertheless, for the sake of accuracy, understanding, and goodwill towards non-Christian Jews, please do us the courtesy of discontinuing your misuse of the term “masorete.”

    No further comments on this or related off-topic matters in this commentbox please.

  19. Anonymous12:21 AM

    To change the subject from my last two posts, I am surprised that this blog has not been discussing the decision last week of the P.C.E.D. in regard to the Diocese of Killala in Ireland. The news seem to be major to me. It indicates that "Summorum Pontificum" is not just words. It would appear that Rome intends to enforce it. Comments?


  20. Steve K.2:32 AM

    Can anyone recommend a good history of the Spanish Civil War? I appreciate the pointers - given the academic climate of the past few decades, I imagine I'd have to wade through quite a bit of pro-Republican works to find the gems.

  21. Anonymous2:38 AM

    And now the faith is dying out in Spain and what the Muslims could not do by force, they are doing by moving in and having children.

  22. Anonymous5:34 AM

    If the choice is between communists who had already shown their willingness to massacre priests and burn churches in several countries, and Franco.... is it any surprise we would ally with Franco?

  23. Juan Martin12:38 PM

    Even when I admire the fight of spaniards preserving their catholic way of life, I have some questions for our reflection: if "blood of martyrs, seed of christians": why the true martyredom of so many turned out in the actual Spain? Why after Franco one decade of PSOE (socialists) with divorce, abortion, etc..? (Juan Martin, Argentina)

  24. SOT: yes he did get help from the Naziss but it was not reciprocated. In fact Franco actually banned Spaniards from fighting for the Nazis against the Allies. Hitler was a neo-pagan degenerate, Franco was a Christian hero.

  25. "The news seem to be major to me. It indicates that "Summorum Pontificum" is not just words. It would appear that Rome intends to enforce it. Comments?"

    Perhaps this is slightly off topic, but the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper, which originally broke this story, has been withdrawn from circulation in the diocesan churches by the local Council of Priests (the same organization that also instructed the bishop to ban the TLM).

  26. Anonymous2:45 PM


    "The Last Crusade" by Warren Carroll is a Catholic history of the Spanish revolution.

  27. Francesco B.2:54 PM

    Juan Martin,

    You raise good points. Perhaps the opportunity was squandered by leftist Catholic followers of the evasive "spirit" of Vatican II?

    I too wonder why the Spanish people as a whole seem to have abandoned the faith despite the blood of so many martyrs. But I suppose that could be said of the rest of Europe as well...

    Viva Cristo Rey!

  28. Adeodatus4:17 PM

    Ah! I love the new banner (still placing the crucifix at the center, of course).

    I don't know for sure why the Spaniards have gone in the direction that they have. My own hypothesis about the trajectory of "late capitalist" western societies, including Spain, is that the Gramscist programme (exemplified by Alinksy in the USA) actually succeeded. Which if correct is a very gloomy thing, but not hopeless.

    Briefly, all Marxists have had to wrestle with the question of why the working classes of the industrialized West did not rise up in revolt, as Marx predicted that they would. Gramsci differentiates political power (material) from cultural power (ideas) and says that the capitalists of the West have a "cultural hegemony" over the workers: the ideas of the ruling class have become the ideas of the working class, and appear as common sense. Religion of course is at the heart of this. So the working class has to, in effect, develop and propagate an alternate, secular, religion which will supplant previous ideas. I would say that in the USA Saul Alinsky represents this approach.

    Basically, according to these folks, the revolution comes through overthrowing the ideas of the ruling class with 'working class ideas', basically a socialist ideology and socialist cultural religion.

    For instance, the left in the USA co-opted the Civil Rights movement after the fact. Obviously it was a truly Christian thing to defeat the institutionalized racism that lingered as a holdover from our nation's past sins. However, now that movement has been used in the popular consciousness to justify the homosexualist agenda, simply by substituting the protagonist of the struggle. And thus an essentially Christian movement has been hijacked and turned into an essentially anti-Christian one.

    Something similar happened with regards to the pro-abortion movement, too. In the USA you'll find lots of men who support abortion largely because they want to be considered part of the "pro-woman" camp, or don't want to be perceived as ogres.

    In effect, I suppose what I'm saying is that even though they lost many material struggles (Spain, Korea, etc.) the Communists have won a massive propaganda victory in the West. This is certainly true in the USA re: the Spanish Civil War; everyone seems to unquestioningly love the Republicans (usually not even knowing about their anti-clerical persecutions) because of Franco's political associations.

  29. Anonymous4:25 PM

    From what I understand, Spanish volunteers were permitted to fight on the Russian front, where the Germans 1.) were fighting a Communist regime, and 2.) were fighting a regime that had earlier supported the Republicans in Spain. There was some justice in the act, then. However, the Spanish volunteers did not, to my knowledge, fight the *Western* Allies to any great extent. Also, the Spanish do not seem to have participated in genocide in the East (the best of my recollection of my studies). Indeed, I have read that some Spaniards managed to smuggle their newly-acquired Polish and Russian girlfriends back to Spain. If "Latin love" have prevailed over Nazi racism in the East, world history would be much different! -- Bonifacius

  30. Anonymous7:04 PM

    From watching the statistics on Traditional Latin Masses, I must say that the situation in Spain has been very poor for a long time but is now improving. "Summorum Pontificum" seems to be unto Spain (and for Germany too) what "Ecclesia Dei Adflicta" was for France and the U.S.A. The Una Voce site for Spain (used to be Roma Æterna?) is quite good and shows not only dioceses which have regularised Masses but also some where petitions for them are underway. The I.C.R. and a formerlyo-independent group of nuns in Barcelona are changing the situation for the better.

    Given what is going on in secular society in Spain, however, we can only ask for the intercession of the Martys of the Spanish Civil War. I would like to see them added to the universal calendar for the old Mass, with their own proper. That would be the sort of change which we all can support.


  31. John McFarland8:00 PM

    Let me offer a somewhat different analysis of the last 70 years of Spanish history.

    The hierarchy of Spain, that most pro-papal of countries, was desperately seeking to make its peace with the liberals from and after the condemnation of Action Francaise in 1926. Fr. Vallet, the great traditionalist champion of lay spirituality and action, was in effect run out of Spain, and the very young Fr. Escriva was being groomed to head up a properly Christian Democratic replacement organization. It is no accident that Jacques Maritain's Integral Humanism, the gospel of Christian Democracy, began as a series of lectures given in Spain on the eve of the Civil War.

    But when the Reds and Blacks took over (or perhaps better, rendered irrelevant) the Republic, and when the Reds and Blacks set out to murder every priest they could find, and when against all odds and expectations the old Catholic militancy arose for one last time in the Requetes, the hierarchy had no choice but to embrace Franco.

    But as Franco grew old, the more and more secularized Christian Democracy, with the Opus Dei technocrats initially in the lead, orchestrated the "modernization" of Spain. Except in his old age, Franco always thought of himself as temporary and transitional, and so it turned out that he was -- just a temporary setback in Spain's campaign to throw itself into the arms of modernity. All the liberals had to do was to forswear killing priests.

    Of course, no one expected things to go as far as they did; but they did.

    P.S. As regards the canonization of the founder of Opus Dei, I would recommend a piece in the Angelus a few years back (can't recall the date) which argues that the traditional doctrine (which is not de fide, but certainly was the pre-Vatican II theological consensus) of the infallibility of canonizations only applies if those in authority take seriously the whole business of canonization. It is much the same point as the SSPX makes regarding the Vatican magisterium: it order to be infallible, it must be intended to be infallible (as if did not, for example, in the case of the "pastoral" Second Vatican Council). But as the article convincingly argues, the process of beatification and canonization has undergone "instrumentalization." When the Pope visits Ruritania, a Ruritanian is at least beatified. When the Pope wants to make a statement in favor of the nonwhite races, Juan Diego is canonized. When the Vatican wants to bolster the authority of Vatican II, Monsignor Escriva is canonized.

  32. Anonymous9:18 PM

    John MacFarland,

    I suppose Padre Pio isn't a saint either so!

  33. Son of Trypho10:02 PM

    I would suggest that Franco permitted Spanish troops/volunteers to fight in the Division Azul against the USSR only. I personally think this was a poor choice on the part of Franco.

    Similarly, I would suggest Hugh Thomas' "The Spanish Civil War" for a good fact-based general outline of the conflict. Although a leftist, George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" gives a reader a good idea of how bad the Communists/Stalinists were in the conflict against their own people.

  34. The canonisation formula certainly fits the stipulations of Pastor Aeternus, which would mean canonisations are always intended to be infallible declarations. And after all, no canonised saint has ever been "decanonised," and such a thing is scarcely conceivable. Once having formally declared that so-and-so is in heaven, Mother Church won't ever turn around and say, "Oops, never mind about that." We can have confidence when our Mother makes such findings.

  35. Anonymous1:21 AM

    John McFarland,

    Do you know who canonized St. Catherine of Siena (aka of Ruritania)? Pope Pius II. Do you know where he was from? Siena (aka Ruritania). Shall we question the canonization?

    First, despite what the author of the article in the Angelus (who has no authority) says, the Vatican does take canonizations very seriously. If you asked the Pope if contemporary canonizations lack any authority present in canonizations of the past, the Pope would answer, "No." Hence, there is no defect of intention. These canonizations are every bit as infallible as ever.

    Some people have grave reservations about Opus Dei. In the 1200s, some people had grave reservations about the mendicant orders, particularly the Franciscans. In the 1500s (and until *now* acutally), some people had grave reservations about the Jesuits. Yet we have it on infallible authority that all of those Franciscan and Jesuit saints are in Heaven. Likewise, today some people have grave reservations about Opus Dei, but nonetheless we have it on infallible authority that St. Josemaria Escriva is in Heaven.

    -- Bonifacius

  36. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Anonymous and Son of Trypho, thanks for the book recommendations.

  37. Anonymous5:10 AM

    Jordanes writes:

    "And after all, no canonised saint has ever been "decanonised," and such a thing is scarcely conceivable. Once having formally declared that so-and-so is in heaven, Mother Church won't ever turn around and say, "Oops, never mind about that." We can have confidence when our Mother makes such findings."

    St. Philomena, pray for us!

    The Church has no established means for knowing that someone is *not* in Heaven (a saint); therefore, the mere fact that nobody has been decanonised does not, in itself, mean that canonisations are certain. The Church could, perhaps, withdraw a canonisation; that is, she *might* be able to withdraw a declaration of canonisation. But there would be no reason to do that if we could not know that the person in question was not a saint. After all, nobody can ever come along and *prove* that someone is not a saint.

    Whether or not the current procedures for canonisation meet the criteria as established in Paster Æternus certainly has been debated before. P.A. does say, to my recollection, that infallibility depends, in part, on what the Church says but also the means by which she makes a declaration. So the procedures used might come into it. I don't know, so I won't speculate further.

    The best route, I think, is at least to assume what the Church declares. However, that needn't mean that we must pray to any particular saint. If we have doubts, we can choose not to venerate a certain saint, while nevertheless assuming that the canonisation is valid. After all, there are many saints whom we accept entirey and yet choose not to venerate. How many on this blog venerate, say, St. Oswald, King of Northumbria?


  38. Anonymous5:25 AM

    On Bonifacius's words:

    I would venture to add that some people *still* have grave reservations about the Jesuits and had such reservations both before and after the Council, even if the reasons for these reservations were not the same in those two periods. I think that we can accept St. Ignatius Loyala as a saint and yet regard his entire project as unfortunate. We are not bound to regard the prudential decisions or actions of saints to be apposite or wise. Canonisation is a guarantee in respect to the saint, not to his foundation.

    And so we can accept Escriva as a saint completely and yet regard Opus Dei as a terrible mistake, even as a tragic error which should be corrected by complete suppression.

    I am not taking the view that Opus Dei is a mistake. However, I still don't wish to support it in any way, since it does not advance the Traditional Latin Mass. But I think that there are some very pious and good people in Opus Dei.


  39. Anonymous6:02 PM

    P.K.T.P. wrote:

    "I would venture to add that some people *still* have grave reservations about the Jesuits . . ."

    That is what I meant when I wrote that people "(until now, actually)"
    have reservations about the Jesuits. But I'm glad we agree!

    -- Bonifacius

  40. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Well, I think that canonization does imply *something* about the saint's projects and goals. It would be an odd Catholic indeed who said, "Fine, all those Benedictines are in Heaven -- but the Benedictine order as an idea was a giant tragic mistake."

  41. Stanislas8:02 AM

    A shame that General Franco used German forces? In fact, Wilhelm Canaris was a good friend of Franco's and the Legion Kondor which fought in Spain 1937-39 was a heroic force. Even if German! They were heroes. Manfred von Richthofen was in it. The Battle of Guernica-Gernika was not what was made out of it by the Leftists. It was a military raid against Basque pro-Republican troops residing in Gernika the day before.

    God bless National Spain!

  42. Son of Trypho9:52 PM

    Well considering that the German government had already passed the Nuremberg Laws by this period, I think its fairly reasonable to suggest that it was an unfortunate choice on the part of Franco to associate with such a regime.

    I think that Pius XI agreed with "Mit Brennender Sorge" about how bad the regime was also.

  43. Son of Trypho: stop!

    This was a struggle of life and death. Spain was not merely trying to save its independence (such as Finland, which allied itself to Germany in the middle of World War II itself, and which nobody seems to remember), but its very soul. If this was Franco's greatest mistake (though Pius XII does not at all condemn it), it was no greater than democratic Finland's.