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Marist Calendar - December

Letter from Manuel de Irujo


Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain in the Republican Government - 7th January 1937

Martyrs in Spain

The Constitution of the Republic proclaims the freedom of conscience and of religions. The law on the congregations and the denominations rules on the practice of religion and guarantees it.

The present situation of the Church, as of last July, throughout all the loyal territory, except in the Basque Country, is the following:

a-All the altars, objects and images of worship, except in some rare exceptions, have been destroyed and often profaned. 
b-All the churches have been closed to worship, which remains totally and absolutely suspended. 
c-A large number of churches has been burned in Catalonia, and this seems to have been accepted as if that was normal practice. 
d-The warehouses and official organisations have received bells, chalices, ciboria, candelabras and other objects of worship; they have melted them down for military or industrial purposes. 
e-Warehouses of all types have been set up in the churches: markets, garages, military stables, shelters and other various modes of occupation…
f-All the convents have been emptied and religious life forbidden. The buildings objects of worship and goods of any sort have been burnt, vandalised, seized or destroyed. 
g-Priests and religious have been arrested, sent to prison and shot by the thousands without any process. This state of affairs, instead of having diminished, continues all the more, not only in the countryside, where they are hunted down and killed savagely, but also in the cities. Madrid and Barcelona and the other large cities have hundreds of detainees whose only fault is to be a priest or a religious.
h-It is now absolutely forbidden to have images and objects of worship in private. The police keep registers of families, searching their houses, in the most intimate aspects of their personal or family life and destroy maliciously and violently any religious images, prints or books and anything to do with worship or things that are simply just a reminder of it…

The opinion of the civilised world is observing, with an astonishment that is tilting towards repulsion, the conduct of the government of the Republic, which has not prevented these acts of violence mentioned previously and which consents to their continuation in the form and terms thus exposed. The revolutionary wave may be considered blind, irresistible and uncontrollable in the first instances. The systematic destruction of churches, altars and objects of worship can no longer be considered as a business out of one’s control.

The participation of official organisations in the transformation of churches and objects of worship has industrial motivations, the imprisonment in State goals of priests, religious, their assassinations, the continuation of a truly fascist system given that everyday the individual conscience of believers is outraged in the intimacy of their very houses and by the official forces of public power, all of that cannot receive a possible explanation without placing before the Government its complicity or powerlessness in this dilemma. The conclusion is that the exterior policy of the Republic is not attracting the esteem of the civilised world to its cause. 


Source: Hilari Raguer, La pólvora y el incienso, La Iglesia y la Guerra Civil española, - Peninsula HCS. pp. 418-420.

The Republicans were in power in Spain in 1936. On the 18th July, Franco rose up against this government and created the Nationalist Movement. Spain was split into two: some regions stayed faithful to the Republic, others joined the movement of Franco. Persecution reigned in the regions that remained Republican. In these Republican regions priests and religious were killed by the thousands. – The letter of this minister is full of merit as it describes the persecution in all of its bluntness.

The 18th July witnessed the rising up of Franco against the government of Madrid.

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