A Golden Age of Evangelization: Spain (722-1492-1898)


The Reconquista of Spain (722-1492)


And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed (Mk 16: 15-20).

And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And seeing him they adored: but some doubted. And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in Heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt 28: 16-20).

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy, a brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus, who are at Colossa. Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. Hearing your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which you have towards all the saints. For the hope that is laid up for you in Heaven, which you have heard in the word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as also it is in the whole world, and bringeth forth fruit and groweth, even as it doth in you, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth (Col 1: 1-6).

Sixteenth century Spain: her Golden Age! Under the rule of Carlos I (1516-1556)—who ruled also as Carlos V, Holy Roman Emperor—and Felipe II (1556-1598). A noble nation of Catholic Kingdoms, unified by 1492 under Their Catholic Majesties, Isabel I of Castile (1474-1504) and Fernando II of Aragón (1479-1516), which ended with the taking of the the last Moorish bastion: the southern city of Granada.

The Catholic Reconquista… It was in the year 722 in my home province of Asturias, slightly northwestern coast, where the nobleman turned king, Pelagius or Pelayo (718-737), and several hundred of the local Astures—mainly descendants of the Romans of Hispania and the Visigoths—valiantly and successfully fought back the thousands of invading Moors of eleven years earlier.

N.S. de Covadonga Basílica

Our Lady of Covadonga, the Queen (Basilica)

This historic battle was fought at the mountainous area of Cova-dominica (The Cave of the Lady or Covadonga)—a beautiful place of immemorial Marian devotion, and for centuries an important Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora.

Rey Pelayo

Statue of King Pelayo (Pelagius) of Asturias

Basílica (4)

Basilica of Our Lady of Covadonga (interior)











Henceforth a long, epic war of Reconquista of nearly eight centuries (722-1492) was waged between the Catholic Kingdoms of Asturias, León, Castilla, Aragón, and Navarra, against the occupying Moors.

This medieval crusading spirit can only be explained by a special grace from God: that of Spain being gifted with a deep, Catholic soul.

And also being likewise graced with the presence of Our Lady, and the Apostles St. James the Greater, our Patron saint (brother to St. John, Evangelist and Beloved Disciple), and St. Paul.

But what is more to the point: this medieval crusading spirit of Reconquista similarly explains how Spain was exceptionally providential in the extension of the Gospel, the Catholic faith, and the divine life, in lands far beyond the Iberian peninsula, being as she was also gifted with an extraordinary missionary zeal.

Yes indeed, a remarkably impressive missionary zeal which merely strived to follow—as a Catholic nation—what Our Lord commissioned the Apostles to do: go forth and preach the Evangelium to every creature, teaching all nations to observe everything the Lord had taught them.

But alas, this intense missionary zeal of a bygone era, has become so very foreign to the Church… after Vatican II.

What with the conciliar introduction of a supposedly more “pastoral” approach to religious liberty and ecumenism, it is no wonder at all how archaic and quaint the golden age of evangelization undertaken by a more Catholic Spain must seem today.

Sure enough, the conciliar Declaration, Dignitatis humanæ, states: First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men… On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.

This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.

Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ (DH 1).

In principle, there is nothing objectionable to these doctrinal affirmations. But a major problem of Vatican II Magisterium is, at times, one of ambivalence.

We clearly see this right away: This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right (DH 2).

The magisterial ambivalence shown in these paragraphs mixes doctrines in such a manner as to really provide the framework for erroneous pastoral applicability, as has been so for some fifty years. Something that certainly did not occur with the Church’s evangelization of centuries past.

What are the problems of this conciliar doctrinal ambivalence? First, the affirmation of human dignity—a oft-used expression in postconciliar Magisterium—while certainly not erroneous per se, is nonetheless a problematical one, if not understood in proper perspective.

While it it true that mankind has a innate dignity in his nature, it is not an intrinsic quality in its own right. It’s due exclusively to his being created in God’s own image and likeness—something that no false religion can profess.

Furthermore, human dignity was lost with the Fall of Adam and Eve (and the rest of us) into Original Sin—again, something that no false religion can profess.

And finally, human dignity therefore is restored only because of Christ’s Redemption—alas, something that no false religion can even hope to profess.

So in other words, human dignity is not something intrinscally innate to human nature, or an independent quality—rather, it’s totally dependent on being created—and being redeemed—in God’s own image and likeness.

Vatican II not only says that no one should be forced to believe—something which the Church has already always taught—but also claims that no one can be restrained from practicing the religion of his choice.

In other words, Vatican II teaches a natural right… to be wrong in matters of religion. Of course, it doesn’t say it like that, so explicitly, but that’s the clear insinuation. And that’s certainly been the typical doctrinal practice undertaken after the Council, and in the name of the Council.

And so, Vatican II no longer speaks of religious tolerance alone—which is the Church’s traditional doctrine, preferred by Cardinals like +Alfredo Ottaviani, former head of the Holy Office or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—but actually recognizes a real natural right of the followers of all religions not to be hindered in the practice of their (false) religions.

Finally, this natural right to be wrong not only concerns practice in private, but also public worship and active propagation of any religion in the name of religious freedom. Thus Vatican II promotes something the Church always condemned in previous Magisterium.

To cite but one example: Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical, Libertas præstantissimum (1888): Therefore, the nature of human liberty, however it be considered, whether in individuals or in society, whether in those who command or in those who obey, supposes the necessity of obedience to some supreme and eternal law, which is no other than the authority of God, commanding good and forbidding evil.

And, so far from this most just authority of God over men diminishing, or even destroying their liberty, it protects and perfects it, for the real perfection of all creatures is found in the prosecution and attainment of their respective ends; but the supreme end to which human liberty must aspire is God (LP 11).

And this means, of course, the true God, One and Triune, professed by the holy Catholic faith. The same one, true faith that a genuinely Catholic missionary spirit strives to extend to the far corners of the world, as Our Lord commanded the Apostles…

In his eye-opening book, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics,+Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre writes very luminous paragraphs in chapter 11, which deal precisely with this problem of conciliar religious liberty:

The initial—and, in fact, new—argument was based on the freedom of every man to practice inwardly and outwardly the religion of his choice, on the basis of “the dignity of the human person.” In this view, liberty is based on dignity, which gives it its raison d’être. Man can hold any error whatever in the name of his dignity.

This is putting the cart before the horse. For whoever clings to error loses his dignity and can no longer build upon it. Rather, the foundation of liberty is truth, not dignity. “The truth will make you free,” said Our Lord.

What is dignity? According to Catholic tradition, man derives dignity from his perfection, i.e, from his knowledge of the truth and his acquisition of the good.

Man is worthy of respect in accordance with his intention to obey God, not in accordance with his errors, which will inevitably lead to sin. When Eve the first sinner succumbed, she said, “The serpent deceived me.” Her sin and that of Adam led to the downfall of human dignity, from which we have suffered ever since.

We cannot then make the downfall the cause of liberty. On the contrary, adherence to truth and the love of God are the principles of authentic religious liberty, which we can define as the liberty to render to God the worship due to Him and to live according to His commandments.

If you have followed my argument, you see that religious liberty cannot be applied to false religions; it does not allow of being split up in this way; the only right that must be recognized by the state is that of the citizens to practice Christ’s religion.

Well then, given who I am (a traditional-minded diocesan priest, alas, for the time-being bi-ritual), where I’m from (Spain), and also where I exercise my priestly ministry, I am really rather hurt and upset with Pope Francis’ entire recent “awesome” Apostolic Visit to South America.

True enough, it may have had its moments—with the youth, the elderly, and the poor—but in general, it has been a disastrously deplorable visit from a pastoral perspective, very sorry to say.

As usual, he doesn’t clarify as to what exactly he is referring to, when, commenting the St. John Gospel passage of the Wedding at Cana, he carefully spoke ambiguous and ominous words regarding the upcoming Synod, in which he alluded to his hope that God can turn into a miracle what we deem to be impure or scandalous, and that families were in such need of this miracle.

Notwithstanding what he really means by this, does it really matter what we deem is impure or scandalous—for example, co-habitation, premarital sex, access to Holy Communion of public and unrepentant adulterers (i.e, divorced and civilly remarried Catholics), or “stable” same-sex relationships?

Does it not rather matter what God himself considers impure and scandalous?

So, is Francis implying that God is willing—today—to overlook what we deem is impure or scandalous, and that if we don’t understand this measure of God’s mercy—i.e., the “miracle” that families need today—we are no better than the hypocritical pharisees?

But there is much more… His insistence—at least twice very clearly—in contributing to the infamous and unjust Protestant-inspired “Black Legend” of Catholic, missionary Spain, mentioning only whatever abuses were committed.

Isabel I

Spanish actress, Michelle Jenner, in the role of Queen Isabel I of Castile, in a recent TV series


Carlos V

Spanish actor, Álvaro Cervantes, in the role of King Carlos I of Spain, Carlos V Holy Roman Emperor, in a debuting TV series


Felipe II (alt)

His Catholic Majesty of Spain, Philip II of Hapsburg

But, in line with typical conciliar style, he failed to make crucial distinctions: that abuses were committed by unscrupulous individuals who took advantage of political and socio-economic opportunities in new lands, very far away from the Spanish Monarchy’s protection.

Thus, abuses were most certainly not a matter of Spanish Royal governing policy—as the successive body of laws, decrees, and amendments were enacted, all historically documented (1501, 1503, 1504, 1509, 1512, 1514, 1516, 1523, 1525, 1526, 1528, 1529, 1530, 1534, 1537—which helped Pope Paul III to publish in 1537 a Papal Bull, Sublimis Deus—1542, 1543, 1548, 1549, 1550, 1553, 1556, 1568, 1681) specifically to protect the native population from abuses, to procure the evangelization of the local population, and to punish those responsible for any abuses.

Of course, given the fallen human condition, these royal laws and decrees—in and of themselves good—were not always followed to their letter or to their spirit. We are after all talking about the XVI-XIX centuries, huge overseas territories, thousands of miles from Spain.

But during his Visit to South America, Pope Francis seemed to ignore these historical facts. He publicly apologized for the “offenses of the Church” during these centuries of Spanish rule. Offenses? Of the the Church? But it was precisely the Church who best defended and looked out for the material and spiritual needs of the native inhabitants of those lands!

Given that according to Francis, proselytism is such “solemn nonsense,” could he mean the “offense” of evangelizing those peoples? One cannot choose but to wonder…

Francis also publicly apologized for the “crimes committed during the conquest of the Americas.” But again, failing to make crucial distinctions: who exactly were committing those crimes of abuse? Certainly not the Catholic Church or her missionaries. Certainly not the Catholic Spanish Crown…

Historically, the Reconquista that Spain providentially managed for herself was no less a providential preparation for the Conquest of the Americas and the Philippine Islands. The same spiritual endeavor that mobilized an entire population at Covadonga, Asturias, towards Granada, kept going onward to the Canary Islands, the Antilles, and henceforth to North America, Central and South America, and the Far East.

The Reconquista of peninsular Spain took nearly eight centuries; the Conquista of the Americas only half a century. This was so rapid due to the fact that the local populations were culturally and technologically overwhelmed, and in general, were peacefully merged into Spanish Catholic civilization.

Indeed, the “conquest” was more of persuasion and cultural assimilation, then by the force of arms, something—alas—very politically incorrect to say today, but nonetheless historically true.

In order to understand history, it’s necessary but not sufficient to only know the facts. It’s vital to understand the spirit, the intention, that moved an intensely Catholic nation that Spain was during those centuries, by which we come to comprehend a more profound significance.

So, if we are ignorant of the medieval crusading spirit of Spain, we cannot ever come to appreciate the discovery and conquest by evangelization of the Americas, India, and the Philippines.


Spanish and Portuguese Vice-Royalties of the New World

And we must also understand that it was Rome herself, during a more Catholic XVI century, who confided the Americas to Catholic Spain, precisely for its evangelization. Proof of that is the 1493 Papal Bull Inter cœtera issued by Alexander VI.

And all the while during that glorious XVI century, we had a saintly Spanish Jesuit by the name of Francis Xavier, from the Kingdom of Navarra, who traveled to India and undertook an incredible task of evangelization.

He wrote letters to the saintly Founder of the Company of Jesus, another Spaniard by the name of Ignatius of Loyola, informing him of just how compelling it was to teach the faith to the local inhabitants, about the hardship of praying the Breviary, and how his arms were exhausted by baptizing countless so many…

Quite a different story than many polytheistic Jesuits in India today, who are nonetheless in “full communion” with the Catholic Church, of course…

Therefore, all those—and yes, that may include Pope Francis—who through modern-day political correctness, try to describe Spain’s involvement in the New World as a mere abusive, liberal, mercantilist venture, typical of the bourgeoise mentality, will understand nothing of the evangelization done, and thus, will understand nothing of the true humanization of those lands.

While it is true that when the Spaniards arrived at the shores of the Americas, they were impressed at the kindness shown to them by the native population.

But when the Spaniards discovered also the cruel human sacrifices being done to their false gods and demons—for example, the Aztecs alone sacrificed thousands of human lives each year—they were moved even more to compassion to enlighten those peoples—yes, by evangelizing them, by converting them to the Truth—of those who were living in darkness.

Now, let us compare evangelization centuries before Vatican II: the Spaniards most certainly did not inform the natives of their freedom to practice their religion because of their human dignity!

Mel Gibson’s compelling film, Apocalypto (2006), shows that two completely different civilizations—the brutal customs of local pagan natives against each other, persecuting the love of one man for his wife and children—and the arriving Catholic Spaniards from Europe, are just not the same conception of humanity…

But, in true “human dignity,” “religious freedom” postconciliar political correctness mentality, never once during his Visit to South America, did Francis ever acknowledge the Patronato Real / Royal Patronage by which the Spanish Crown governed those lands with benevolence.

Unlike a Protestant England and Holland—whose presence in their overseas territories was much different—Catholic Spain did not establish colonies, as such.

Similar to the ancient Roman Empire, they were actually overseas provinces of Spain proper. And yet unlike the Roman Empire, Spain did not conceive herself with an empire per se, but rather provinces of Spanish kingdoms, under the Monarch.

In fact, the legitimate traditional Catholic Monarchy is called Rey/Reina de las Españas or King/Queen of the Spains, in plural.

And most unlike the Protestant colonizing nations, Spain’s Royal Laws, Decrees and Amendments were issued throughout the four centuries of Spanish benignant rule, for the evangelization and protection of the native populations.

But Francis implied that the only “bad guys” from 1492 to 1898 were the Catholic Spaniards!

So Francis, by apologizing for the “offenses of the Church” (!) and for the “crimes” perpetrated against the native populations, during the “conquest” of the Americas, implicitly insinuated that it was the Catholic Church and Spain’s governing policy!

Yet Francis praised the total goodness of what he claimed was independence from tyranny and socio-economic oppression.

But what he was really praising, knowingly or not, was actually the Masonic and Protestant-inspired revolution and independence from a benevolent Catholic Spain during the XIX century.

But this was precisely something that his predecessor, Pius VII, condemned in Etsi longissimo terrarum, an encyclical of 30 January 1816. In fact, many local inhabitants sided with Spain, for they had no desire to fall into the hands of Protestant and Masonic liberals who would really exploit those lands.

But ah yes, those nasty, pre-Vatican II Catholic Spaniards, alas, who “dialogued” by daring to convert the natives, ending that absolutely barbaric practice of human sacrifices to those false gods…

So who apologizes for those crimes against humanity? Done by the way in the name of false gods? Apparently, that doesn’t form part of the harvesting of Vatican II, trying as we are here to separate the fruits from the nuts…

Then Francis accepts with a smile for the official photos, a Crucifix-gift, given to him by the President of Bolivia—a man who despises the horse because it was brought over from Europe by the “imperialistic” Spaniards {sic}—made in the blasphemous image and likeness of the communist hammer and sickle! I mean, really?

How about apologizing for the crimes of the communists, a monstrous tyranny responsible for over 100 million deaths all over the world?

Surely, Spain’s gloriously rich Catholic history provoked Satan’s malice, unleashed in the 1930s, with a brutal Civil War.

Under the symbol of hammer and sickle—declared enemy of the Cross—churches and sacramental registries were burned, precious artwork destroyed, thousands and thousands of Catholics—including bishops, priests, religious, seminarians, laity—including children—were imprisoned and murdered.

Hundreds of such Spanish martyrs, euphemistically known as “martyrs of the XX century,” have already been beatified by the Church in recent years.

But since it appears that only Catholics are supposed to apologize for being so, who apologizes for those communist crimes against Catholics?

But no, the wicked Spaniards are the bad guys here, for decidedly bringing the Evangelium, and establishing a Catholic society, complete with churches to worship the One true Triune God with a sacred liturgy truly worthy of Him, universities, schools, hospitals, municipalities, roads?

It would seem, therefore, that history is not one of Francis’ stronger points…

And to all this, including not traveling to Spain in this fifth centenary year when we are celebrating the birth of St. Teresa of Ávila, Doctor of the Church (1515-2015). That didn’t sit too well with the bishops here, alas, ever so prudent with the ever so arduous pontificate of Francis…

santa teresa imagen

Saint Teresa of Ávila (de Jesús)

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