Rorate Caeli

On the 70th Anniversary of Victory Day in Spain


(April 14, 1939)

With great joy We address you, most dear children of Catholic Spain, to express to you our fatherly congratulations for the gift of peace and of victory, with which God has deemed worthy to crown the Christian heroism of your faith and charity, tried in so many and so generous sufferings. Our Predecessor, of venerable memory, expected, with longing and trust, this Providential peace, which is undoubtedly the fruit of that copious blessing which he sent, in the very beginning of the struggle, "to all those who had devoted themselves to the difficult and dangerous task of defending and restoring the rights and the honor of God and Religion" [1]; and We do not doubt that this peace shall be the one that he himself foretold since then, "the sign of a future of tranquility in order, and of honor in prosperity" [2].

The designs of Providence, most beloved children, have once again dawned over heroic Spain. The Nation chosen by God as the main instrument of the evangelization of the New World and as an impregnable fortress of the Catholic faith has just shown to the apostles of materialistic Atheism of our century the greatest evidence that the eternal values of religion and of the spirit stand above all things.

The tenacious propaganda and the constant efforts of the enemies of Jesus Christ seemed to have desired to try in Spain a supreme experiment of the dissolving forces which they have at their disposal throughout the world; and even though it is true that the Almighty has for now not allowed them to achieve their goal, He has at least tolerated some of their terrible effects, so that the world could see how religious persecution, undermining the very bases of justice and charity, which are love for God and respect for His holy law, may drag modern society to unthinkable abysses of evil destruction and passionate discord.

Convinced of this truth, the sane Spanish people, with the two marks characteristic of their most noble spirit, which are generosity and frankness, rose up determinedly in defense of the ideals of Christian faith and civilization, deeply rooted in the Spanish soil, and, aided by God, "who does not abandon those who hope in Him" (Judith 13, 17), could resist the push from those who, deceived by what they believed to be a humanitarian ideal of the exaltation of the meek, truly fought only for Atheism.

This primordial meaning of your victory makes us dwell in the most promising hopes, that God in His mercy will deign lead Spain through the safe path of its traditional and Catholic grandeur; which will be the point that will guide all Spaniards, who love their Religion and their Fatherland, in the effort to organize the life of the Nation in perfect harmony with its most noble history of Catholic faith, piety, and civilization.

We thus exhort the Authorities and Shepherds of Catholic Spain to enlighten the mind of those who were deceived, showing them, lovingly, the roots of Materialism and Secularism from which their errors and wrongful acts came forth, and from which they could spring forth again. Propose to them the principles of individual and social justice, without which the peace and prosperity of nations, as mighty as they may be, cannot subsist, and which are those contained in the Holy Gospel and in the doctrine of the Church.

We do not doubt that it will happen thus, and the bases for Our firm hope are the most noble and Christian sentiments, of which the Chief of State and so many gentlemen, his faithful collaborators, have given unequivocal evidence with the legal protection which they have granted to the supreme religious and social interests, according to the teachings of the Apostolic See. The same hope is also founded upon the enlightened zeal and abnegation of your Bishops and Priests, tempered by pain, and also in the faith, piety, and spirit of sacrifice of which, in terrible hours, all classes of Spanish society gave heroic proof.

And now, before the remembrance of the mounting ruins of the bloodiest civil war recorded in the history of modern times, We, with pious regard, bow our head, above all, to the holy memory of the Bishops, Priests, Religious of both sexes, and faithful of all ages and conditions who, in such an elevated number, sealed with blood their faith in Jesus Christ, and their love for the Catholic Religion: «maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet», "Greater love than this no man hath" (Jn 15, 13).

We also acknowledge our debt of gratitude towards all those who sacrificed themselves even unto heroism in defense of the unalienable rights of God and of Religion, either in the battlefields, or devoted to the sublime works of Christian charity in prisons and hospitals.

We cannot hide the bitter sorrow that the remembrance of so many innocent children, who, having been ripped from their homes, were taken to faraway lands, often in danger of apostasy and perversion: we desire nothing more ardently than to see them returned to the bosom of their families, where they will once again find the warm and Christian tenderness of their own. And those others who, as prodigal sons, wish to return to the house of the father, we doubt not that they will be welcomed with goodwill and love.

It falls upon You, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, to advise all, so that in their policy of pacification all will follow the principles taught by the Church, and proclaimed with such nobility by the Generalísimo: of justice for crime, and of lenient generosity for the mistaken. Our solicitude, also as a Father, cannot forget these deceived ones, whom a deceitful and perverse propaganda succeeded in enticing with praises and promises. Your Pastoral solicitude should be targeted at them, with patience and meekness: pray for them, seek them, lead them again to the regenerative bosom of the Church and to the warmth of the Fatherland, and lead them to the Merciful Father, Who awaits them with open arms.

Therefore, most dear children, since the rainbow of peace has returned to brighten the heavens of Spain, let us come together heartily in a fervent hymn of thanksgiving to the God of Peace and in a prayer of forgiveness and mercy for all those who perished; and, in order that this peace be fruitful and longlasting, We exhort you with all the fervor of Our heart, to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4, 2-3). Thus united and obedient to your venerable Episcopate, devote yourselves joyfully and with no delay, to the urgent work of reconstruction, which God and the Fatherland expect from you.

As a pledge of the copious graces, which the Immaculate Virgin and Saint James the Apostle, Patrons of Spain, shall obtain for you, and which the great Spanish Saints have merited for you, We bestow upon you, Our dear children of Catholic Spain, upon the Chief of State and his illustrious Government, upon the zealous Episcopate and their selfless Clergy, upon the heroic combatants, and upon all the faithful Our Apostolic Blessing.

[1] Speech to the Spanish refugees: AAS 28 (1936) 380.
[2] Speech to the Spanish refugees: AAS 28 (1936) 381.
[a RORATE CÆLI translation]


  1. Anonymous2:11 AM

    ¡Viva España! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

  2. Anonymous2:31 AM

    YES!! I just can't hide that Franco pride.

    Franco, pray for us.

    Pius XII, pray for us.

    If only such valor could succour the ailing American Church, and deliver our Nation from those same apostles of materialism.

  3. I'm not sure how the Catholic martyrs of the Basque, including priests, killed by Franco, would feel about this. Actually, the Church in the Basque region supported the struggle against Franco.

    For the rest of Spain, Franco was certainly the lesser evil.

  4. The great tragedy of Spain [leading to the civil war of 1936-1939] was that in the nineteenth century the working masses apostatized from the Church, as Pope Pius X once remarked. And, it is well to remember, it was poverty, destitution and injustice which made them apostatize. They got to hate the Church because they hated the friends of the Church, who exploited them and whom the Church did nothing to rebuke or correct. The words of Pope Leo XIII 45 years ago went unheeded and his great encyclical Rerum Novarum was neglected. The lesson of all this for us is that we should meet the evil of Communism not merely by denouncing it, and not at all by stigmatizing as communistic all fundamental reforms. We must attack the main causes of Communism. Among these are poverty, insecurity and inequitable distribution of wealth and income. Failure to remove these evils will domore to strengthen Communism than all the propaganda and all the "boring-in" methods of the organized Communist movement.

    Rev. Wilfrid Parsons, S.J. ca 1936, author of Mexican Martyrdom, editor of America magazine from 1925 to 1936, lecturer of political science at Georgetown University.

  5. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful words by a saintly Pope! Let's join in praying for Spain.
    Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us!

  6. Margaret12:47 PM

    Viva catholica Espana! ¡Viva Cristo Rey! By martyrs blood the church will be rebuilt. Margaret

  7. Catholic Observer,

    Whilst the quoted piece by Rev. Parsons raises some good points, I think he at the end draws the wrong conclusions:

    "We must attack the main causes of Communism. Among these are poverty, insecurity and inequitable distribution of wealth and income."

    It is no doubt true that these things fueled Communism - the poor became disillusioned with the poor implementation of Christian ideals and the Communist gospel seemed to offer the only way out of destitution. But combating poverty is in the end a purely materialistic solution which does not address the spiritual side of things. Western governments in the second half of the 20th century spent decades redistributing wealth, and it certainly appeased the working classes, but in no way did it halt the advance of atheism. The end result was little better than under Communism: Christianity is tolerated, but largely marginalised and ridiculed, and public life is dominated by atheist ideas.

    Merely redistributing wealth does nothing good for a country. Christians trying to offer solutions to the problems of secular society have merely ended up shooting themselves in the foot. The Church would have done much better emphasising - especially to the rich - the nature of the Church as a fellowship of brothers and sisters which compels to charitable acts.

  8. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Dios libere a España de Zapatero, de sus leyes y su ateismo.
    Viva España y viva el Rey!

  9. Stanislas8:34 AM

    ¡Arriba España! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    Long live Christ the King.

    To Eric,

    The Basque Roman Catholics were divided. But Basque separatism cannot justify an alliance with Atheism and the genocidal Marxism-Leninism of other parties.

    Of course until 1937 some Catholics thought that the Republican government would change and become more humanitarian - the same way many Liberal-Democrats with Masonic but "more Conservative" views thought. It was not to be.

    The Basques did not suffer too much.

    Of course General Franco was wrong in curtailing local autonomy and independence. Catalonia and the Basque lands had a right to at least autonomy.

    Nevertheless, Franco saved Spain. The Corpo Truppe Volontarie and the Legion Condor from Italy and Germany respectively, were heroes too.

    It was Britain, the United States (of Roosevelt, surrounded by Marxist advisors) and Spain of Léon Blum which allowed the war to drag on in Spain.

    And Dr. António Salazar of Portugal could not stop it: Portugal itself was not very strong militarily. Not stronger than Soviet airplanes and ships sadly enough.

    But God protected the Iberian Peninsula by the blessing of peace in 1939. Lasting until today. But since 1985, the unborn are no longer safe in Spain of the socialists SPOE and 'conservative democrats' of the PP.

    Fortunately, still many Spaniards are pro-life, good, conservative, and 450,000 protested abortion 'liberalisation' last Saturday!

    Fr. Parson SJ is right on social justice and the masses incited by Marxism (Communism). This is true.

    General Franco however created a social justice and social security system worthy of name.

    Also, in Fascist Italy, in Switzerland and in National-Socialist Germany as well as in Danmark, such reforms were effective. And yet Communist sects remained active in some parts.

    The United States today as a Capitalist land are vulnerable to the sect of Communism and state socialism.

    Even more than seemingly apostate and socialist Spain.

    The apostasy of Spain however cannot be blamed on Franco, but is a consequence of Vatican II, of Vatican-incited state laicism and its 'spirit of Vatican 2'.


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