You are on page 1of 14

American Society of Church History

The Evangelization of Franco's "New Spain" Author(s): William J. Callahan Source: Church History, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 491-503 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Society of Church History Stable URL: Accessed: 25/11/2009 11:49
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

American Society of Church History and Cambridge University Press are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Church History.

The Evangelization ofFranco's "New Spain"

On 20 May 1939 General Francisco Franco attended the solemn Te Deum service held at the royal church of Santa Barbara to celebrate the triumph of nationalist over republican Spain. Surrounded by the symbols of Spain's Catholic past, including the standard used by Don Juan of Austria at Lepanto, the general presented his "sword of victory" to Cardinal Goma, archbishop of Toledo and primate of the Spanish church.' The ceremony symbolized the close ties between church and state formed by three years of civil war. The new regime had given proof of its commitment to the church even before the conflict had ended, and the clergy now looked forward to the implementation of a full range of measures in education, culture, and the regulation of public morality, measures that had last been seen in Spain over a century before.2 The end of the war and the permanent installation of the dictatorship were accompanied by what many clerics believed was a religious revival. The Catholic press rarely let a day pass without making satisfied comment on examples of tremendous attendance at religious services: the vast crowd, some of it perched in trees and on lampposts, that viewed the Corpus Christi procession in Madrid in June 1939; the 50,000 people who journeyed in army trucks to a ceremony marking the reconstruction of the national monument to the Sacred Heart a month later; the 300,000 in March 1940 who participated in the First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart in the celebrated shrine to Jesus the Nazarene in the capital.3 These impressive displays, repeated with infinite variety in the years immediately following the war, convinced the clergy that the country was making "an affirmation of faith" of extraordinary proportions.4
1. Ya, 21 May 1939; Teodoro Rodriguez, Asi es Espana y asi la antiespaia (Madrid, 1942), p. 275. 2. The abrogation of the Republic's legislation that was regarded as hostile to the church began early in the history of the regime. A decree of 22 September 1936, for example, re-established the confessionality of the public school system. Other measures, however, such as the abolition of divorce, were not taken until after the war had ended. R. S. Madrid, "La ensefanza religiosa en la nueva Espana," Razbn y Fe (1938), no. 114, pp. 38-39; Guy Hermet, Les catholiques dans l'Espagnefranquiste, 2 vols. (Paris, 1980-1981), 2: 93. 3. Ya, 9 June 1939, 19 July 1939, 2 March 1940. 4. Ibid., 4 March 1940.

Mr. Callahan is professor of history in the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.





Any attempt to understand the development of religiosity in Franco's "New Spain" must take into account the condition of the church both prior to the outbreak of hostilities and during the conflict itself. The extravagant rhetoric of clerical partisans of a revived Catholic Spain, as well as the highly privileged status of the church under the new regime, has obscured a simple fact: the church faced a crisis of staggering dimensions in 1939. Long before the beginning of the civil war, it was evident that religious indifference and outright hostility against the church, sometimes expressed in violent form, had made spectacular progress among both urban industrial workers and the landless agricultural laborers of certain regions, notably Andalusia, Extremadura, and La Mancha.5 The church did succeed, of course, in holding its own in some areas, such as the sturdily Catholic peasant districts of Old Castile, Leon, the Basque provinces, Navarra, and Galicia where, according to a missionary preacher of the day, a "traditional and honest Christianity" was still practiced.6 It is also clear that the church managed to retain influence over the more conservative urban middle classes.7 The alienation of the urban working class and the landless laborers of the south in the 1930s constituted an obvious problem for the church. Given the great variety of religious activities in the country and Spain's strong regional differences, it is more difficult to provide an assessment of the quality of Spanish Catholicism before the proclamation of the Republic in 1931. However, there were critics within the church then who viewed the state of Spanish Catholicism with deep apprehension. The Augustinian Bruno de Ibeas, writing in 1914, believed that Catholicism in Spain had become "a mixture of formalistic and routine devotion and of unconscious credulity." The faith of many, he maintained, "is not rational and concrete and even displays idolatrous characteristics."8 The Dominican Jose Gafo expressed similar sentiments more than a decade later. Although admitting that signs of
5. An astute clerical observer remarked in 1909: "Today, there are great nuclei of workers who not only do not practice a religious life, but also hate it." Similarly, one of the few statistical studies of religious practice carried out before the war painted a devastating picture of dechristianization in Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao. Jose de los Perales Gutierrez, El problema religioso en Espana (Madrid, 1909), p. 101; Francisco Peir6, El problema religioso-social de Espaiia, 2d ed. (Madrid, 1936), p. 14. For a general discussion of dechristianization in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Spain, see W. J. Callahan, "Was Spain Catholic?" Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hzspanicos 2 (1984): 159-182. 6. Pedro R. Santidrian, El Padre Sarabia escribe su historia (1875-1958): medzo siglo de mzsionesen Espana (Madrid, 1963), p. 141. 7. Although commitment to the church was strongest in the northern countryside, the lay leaders of such groups as Catholic Action, founded after the turn of the century to promote the church's interests in a rapidly secularizing society, were drawn in the vast majority from the conservative, educated professional classes of the cities. Thus Father Angel Ayala, who established one of the most influential groups within Catholic Action, the Asociaci6n Cat6lica Nacional de Jovenes Propagandistas, recruited the first members from among students of the elite Jesuit secondary school located on the calle de Areneros in Madrid. Francisco Cervera, Angel Ayala (Madrid, 1975), pp. 132-136. 8. Bruno Ibeas, "Nuestro Christianismo," Espana y America 3 (1914): 514.



spiritual vitality were present in the "countless religious functions, processions, novenas, pilgrimages . . . and indications of every kind," he saw Spanish Catholicism as suffering from "a state of weariness to the point of boredom."9 It is impossible to establish to what extent these pessimistic assessments were justified. But the impression of clerical languor in the face of signs of religious crisis is not entirely accurate. The church attempted, albeit with limited success, to launch a program of social action through rural credit unions and cooperatives and Catholic labor syndicates. It also mounted efforts to introduce the liturgical reforms promoted by Pius X and to improve catechetical instruction.?1 There is little evidence, however, that these programs penetrated to the mass of the country's 20,000 parishes. Few pastoral initiatives were undertaken; the church continued to emphasize "liturgical and extra-liturgical acts, the administration of the sacraments ... and these acts of the cult were carried out solemnly, almost spectacularly, as was the custom then."11 Clerical preoccupations with the religious condition of the country gave way to direct political concerns following the introduction of secularizing legislation by the Republic between 1931 and 1933. Relations between church and state during this period have received extensive study. I do not propose to discuss them other than to note that the Republic destroyed the financial, legal, and educational privileges that the church had enjoyed since 1875. Priests and their lay supporters became obsessed with defending the church's traditional privileges, and this defense assumed an overtly political
character. 2

9. Jose D. Gafo, "La situaci6n religiosa en Espaiia," La Ciencia Tomista 36 (1927): 381. A French Catholic journal was equally critical of the emphasis of the Spanish church on abundant popular devotions, processions, pilgrimages, and the like. It expressed "uneasiness about the future of religion" in the country if the church failed to become more vigorous. "Ou va l'Espagne," Les dossiers de l'Action Populaire 234 (1930): 4. Not all modern commentators would share this view. Josep Massot i Muntaner, who has written extensively on the church in Catalonia, refers to "a revitalization of the clergy" and "a renovation of the pastoral" in the region after the turn of the century: L'Esglesia catalana al segle XX (Barcelona, 1975), pp. 24, 36-37. There is no evidence, however, that this "renovation" had any effect on the dechristianized workers of Catalonia. 10. In 1908, for example, a national congress to reform sacred music took place in Seville; a similar group met at Valladolid in 1913 to propose measures to improve the quality of religious education. Cr6nica del Segundo Congreso Nacional de Musica Sagrada (Seville, 1909); Cr6nica oficial del primer Congreso CatequisticoNacional Espaiol, 2 vols. (Valladolid, 1913). 11. Vicente Enrique y Tarancon, Recuerdos de juventud (Barcelona, 1984), p. 70. In their well-documented study of the church in Galicia during the Republic, Francisco Carballo and Alfonso Magarifios observed that the "organization of the cult .. absorbed ... all its energies practically speaking." La Iglesia en la Galicia contemporanea: analisis hist6rico y teol6gico delperiodo, 1931-1936, H Republica (Madrid, 1978), p. 321. 12. Frances Lannon, "The Church's Crusade against the Republic," in Revolution and War in Spain, 1931-1939, ed. Paul Preston (London, 1984), pp. 46-47.



The effect of these turbulent years on the church as a religious institution has received much less scholarly attention. Yet the most influential Catholic newspaper in the country, El Debate, claimed repeatedly that the time of trial introduced by republican anticlerical legislation had reinvigorated Spanish Catholicism with a "rebirth of fervor in the entire country." Could the existence of a religious revival be denied, asked another contemporary observer, "when our churches in all major cities and towns are seen to be full ?" When had Spain ever witnessed "more fervor, more frequent reception of the sacraments," than between 1931 and 1933?13 Little objective information is available to substantiate these claims. It is true that certain lay associations experienced a significant expansion during the Republic. The Association of Fathers of Families, founded in 1911 to defend the church's role in education, had languished during the 1920s but saw its membership increase from 9,000 in 1931 to 85,000 by 1934.14 However, other indications suggest that the much vaunted religious revival of the early 1930s was far from being as complete and penetrating as its proponents claimed. There is no evidence that the church reversed its declining fortunes among the working classes. Statistics on the reception of the last sacraments by the dying in the Catalan industrial town of Mataro, for example, show a distinct slippage in the number receiving the last rites between 1930 and 1934.15 Nor was there any improvement in religious practice in the dechristianized towns of the southern countryside.16 Within the church some critics expressed doubts about the extent and character of a religious revival. A well-known Redemptorist missionary who had preached throughout the country during the period believed that a revival had taken place but that it would not prove "very lasting." Another critic saw the embracing of religion by some middle-class youth as motivated more by aesthetic and political consideration than by spiritual conversion. This was "a Catholicism that had little of the theological about it."17 If there was a religious revival during the Republic, it was intimately linked to the political
13. El Debate, 3 April 1932. In its issue of 1 January 1933, the newspaper claimed that "a renovation of religious life as is now taking place has been seen in Spain for many years." Eloy Montero y Gutierrez, El porvenir de la Iglesia de Espana (Madrid, 1933), p. 147. 14. El Debate, supplement, 1 January 1935. Similarly, the number of local centers of a Catholic youth group associated with Catholic Action expanded from 700 in 1928 to 1,400 by 1933. Ibid., 1 January 1933. 15. Rogelio Duocastella, Matar6 1955: estudio de sociologia religiosa sobreuna ciudad industrial espaiola (Barcelona, 1961), p. 291. 16. Lannon, "The Church's Crusade against the Republic," pp. 51-52. 17. Santidrian, El Padre Sarabia escribe su historia, p. 253; H. R. Romero Flores, Perfil moral de nuestra hora (Madrid, 1935), p. 69. Even in regions traditionally known for religiosity, the church encountered difficulties. A series of missions held in the rural districts of the province of Burgos in 1933, for example, produced indifferent results and led to the conclusion: "Levels of religious practice have gone down since the advent of the Republic, especially among the young." Boletin de la Obra de la Defensa de la Fe en Espaia (1935), no. 94, p. 130.



reaction of the Catholic middle classes and small agricultural proprietors in certain regions against a regime that threatened both ecclesiastical privilege and class interest. El Debate left its readers in no doubt on this point: "a man of the right must be Catholic before and above all else." "The splendid manifestations of religious faith" seen throughout the nation were due to the "persecution," inflicted by the Republic, which united "all the forces of the right... in defense of the faith and the rights of the Church."'8 The rising of the generals against the Republic on 18 July 1936 dramatically altered the position of the church. In territories under nationalist control the church recoveredmany of the privileges that it had lost between 1931 and 1933. In republican Spain hostility against the church for its support of the military rising quickly led to reprisals. Attacks on churches began in Barcelona on the morning of 19 July as the authorities arrested priests on a large scale. During the months following the outbreak of the war, a wave of violence directed against the clergy and church buildings swept the republican zone.19 The church suffered immense human and material losses in republican Spain during the war. Although government officials and local populations sometimes did their best to save priests from the fury of anticlerical revolutionary groups operating outside the law, the toll in lives reached grim proportions:4,184 secular priests, 2,365 priests from the religious orders, and 283 nuns. The loss of approximately 20 percent of the nation's clergy between 1936 and 1939 meant a drastic loss of personnel. Losses were greater in some dioceses than others, however. Toledo lost 47.6 percent of its clergy; Tortosa, 61.9; Lerida, 65.8; and Barbastro, 87.8 percent. Material losses were also devastating as churches were destroyed, closed, or converted to other uses. In the diocese of Barcelona alone, 300 parish churches and more than 500 chapels and shrines were burned to the ground.20 Within republican Spain the church was thrown into disarray. The formal ecclesiastical organization collapsed upon the execution of twelve of the twenty-eight bishops in the Republic and the rapid departure of the remainder to either exile or the nationalist zone.2' In some districts, however, an underground church was able to function through clandestine networks
18. El Debate, 17 November, 3 April 1932. 19. Jose Sanabre Sanroma, Matirologio de la Iglesia en la di6cesis de Barcelona durante la persecucion religiosa, 1936-1939 (Barcelona, 1943), pp. 29-30. The standard work on this topic is Antonio Montero, Historia de la persecuci6n religiosa en Espafa, 1936-1939 (Madrid, 1961). Although generally regarded as an impressive work of scholarship, this study has been subject to criticism for its failure to distinguish the distinct phases of anticlerical violence in republican Spain. See the perceptive review of Hilari Raguer, Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique 57 (1962): 618-630. 20. Montero, Historia de la persecucion religiosa, pp. 762, 763-764, 633. For the efforts of republican authorities to save priests from certain death, see Hilari Raguer, La espada y la cruz: la Iglesia, 1936-1939 (Barcelona, 1977), pp. 170-174. 21. Montero, Historia de la persecucion religiosa, p. 83.




using safe houses and a variety of subterfuges. As political conditions improved in the Republic with greater government control exerted over revolutionary groups, the underground church was able to function with surprising regularity, in part because republican officials turned a blind eye to religious activities of which they were perfectly aware. By mid-1937 it was estimated that approximately 2,500 priests lived in hiding in Barcelona and that they said more than 2,000 masses a day.22 But in spite of the relative success of the underground church in Barcelona, the situation elsewhere, particularly in rural areas where identification of the clergy was easier than in a large metropolitan center, made even clandestine practice difficult. At Vinaroz, for instance, the few priests who survived in hiding during the war did not dare to carry on religious activities for fear of discovery.23 In nationalist Spain the church encountered a situation highly favorable to its interests. The story of clerical support for Franco during the war is well known. But behind the extravagant rhetoric exalting this "great spiritual and cultural crusade" lay an awareness of the immense problems facing the church in spite of the defeat of those whom it judged to be its enemies.24 The triumph of the nationalist cause seemed to offer an opportunity to rechristianize the nation that had appeared impossible a few years before. "Our revolution," said a Dominican apologist for the regime in 1938, "can bring about a renaissance of an age of faith that definitively had been judged as lost." The war served a providential purpose to advance the cause of religion: "the victory of nationalist arms has opened the field to apostolic activity... This extraordinary historical opportunity cannot be lost."25 To seize this unexpected opportunity, the church, with the enthusiastic cooperation of the civil authorities, relied on a strong dose of social compulsion that embraced education, culture, and public morality.26 Moreover, clerical interests were served well by the presence in the government of officials who had been active members of the influential Catholic Action movement. This support was undoubtedly satisfying, but it could not disguise the immense difficulties facing the church as it sought to realize its primary goal of rechristianizing the nation. Seventeen dioceses lacked bishops as the

22. Raguer, La espada y la cruz, pp. 214-215. For a detailed study of the undergroundchurch in Catalonia, see Albert Manent i Segimon and Josep Ravent6s i Giralt, L'Esglesza clandestina a Catalunya durant la guerra civil, 1936-1939 (Barcelona, 1984). 23. Taranc6n, Recuerdos dejuventud, pp. 244-247. 24. Raz6n y Fe, no. 112 (1937), p. 6. 25. Ignacio Menendez Reigada, Acerca de la guerra santa (Salamanca, 1938), p. 17; Ecclesia (1941), no. 7, p. 2. 26. Thus provincial governors imposed fines on those accused of blasphemy, and the clergy launched periodic campaigns to improve moral conduct. Teachers who had not shown a sufficient degree of "morality and patriotism" were purged from the schools. Hermet, Les catholiques dans l'Espagne franquiste, 2: 129; Lamadrid, "La ensefianza religiosa," pp. 37-38.



war ended, in part because of the impasse that had occurred between the government and ecclesiastical authorities over the former's role in episcopal appointments.27The church also faced a serious problem in reorganizing its administration in regions that had been under republican rule during the war. The condition of the diocese of Tortosa provides an example. With an aged bishop living in Rome until after the conflict ended, the task of reorganizing the diocese fell to the vicar-general, who dispatched small groups of priests in the wake of the nationalist armies. These priests concentrated their efforts on finding churches in suitable condition for services and on securing clergy for the large number of parishes lacking incumbents. The latter was by no means easy, for many priests who had survived the war in hiding had suffered "a horrible trauma" that made it difficult for them to return to normal pastoral duties.28In Madrid, material devastation to churches was so great that the bishop established a special vicarate of reorganization in 1939 to meet minimal pastoral needs.29 The task of repairing extensive material damage in a country with an economy in near ruin proceeded slowly at first. A government decree of March 1941 finally authorized state financing of rebuilding efforts. In June of the same year the regime created the National Junta for the Reconstruction of Churches to supervise reconstruction. The Junta financed the rebuilding of one hundred churches during its first year of operation.30Reconstruction took far longer than had been anticipated, however, although the pace varied from diocese to diocese. In Barcelona by 1943 more than 250 churches had been rebuilt or repaired thanks to significant private donations. The situation in Toledo, where rebuilding depended almost entirely on government assistance, proceeded more slowly. As late as 1950, many churches requiring repair had not received it.31Yet for the most part the reconstruction campaign largely had fulfilled its goals by the early 1950s. Generous state financing of reconstruction allowed the church to derive some pastoral benefits from the situation. For the first time in its modern history it was able to expand the number of churches in the cities and to carry out a limited parochial reorganization that took population size and parish

27. Hermet, Les catholiques dans l'Espagnefranquiste, 2: 95, n. 2. 28. Taranc6n, Recuerdos dejuventud, p. 249. 29. Kodasver (pseud.), Medio siglo de vida diocesana matritense, 1913-1963 (Madrid, 1963), pp. 134-135. 30. Ecclesia (1941), no. 40, pp. 5-6. The process of providing funds for reconstruction was ongoing. In 1943, for example, the government authorized a special loan of 40,000,000 pesetas at a subsidized interest rate for this purpose. Ecclesia (1943), no. 81, p. 18. 31. Santiago Petschen, La Iglesia en la Espafia de Franco (Madrid, 1977), pp. 59-60. The public purse was not bottomless, however, as Franco made plain in a 1942 interview. He indicated that the state expected the faithful to contribute generously to the rebuilding of churches. When asked if he had confidence in their generous instincts, he replied: "Oh yes! Charity is never exhausted." Ecclesia (1942), no. 28, p. 7.



location into account.32 Recognizing that they had not developed an adequate parochial organization in working-class districts before the war, ecclesiastical authorities concentrated the construction of new churches in these areas. Between 1939 and 1941 seventeen new parishes, the majority in poor barrios, were built in Madrid. In Valencia the nearly universal destruction of churches allowed the archbishop to carry out a thorough parochial reorganization which resulted in some parishes being closed, others transferred to districts of greater need, and nine new parishes established in working-class areas. Moreover, the church went beyond the construction of churches and parish houses. Many working-class parishes provided medical dispensaries and a variety of social services.33 In some dioceses it proved more difficult to resolve the problems created by the loss of clergy during the war. In spite of a rush of late vocations after the close of hostilities, the church had to struggle for years to provide sufficient priests for parish work.34 Two years after the war ended, the Toledo archdiocese still lacked priests for 147 parishes with a total population of 115,256. The available clergy were spread thinly, especially in the countryside, where a single parish priest often served several villages at the same time. Conditions in the diocese of Malaga continued to be desperate as late as 1944. The entire diocese contained only 166 priests for a population of 600,000; 52 of its 146 parishes lacked incumbents. The bishop estimated that he required at least 200 more priests to meet minimal pastoral needs.35 In time, the shortage of priests was remedied by the surge in seminary enrollments first noted in the early 1940s. Still, the church never entirely made up the losses suffered during the war, particularly among parish priests.36

32. Prior to 1931 the church depended on government funds for the creation of new parishes. Neither the constitutional monarchy (1875-1923) nor the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930) was prepared to provide the money necessary to increase the number of parishes in the growing cities. The result was that average population size in the parishes of Madrid and Barcelona was among the largest in Europe. Enrique Swoboda, La cura de almas en las grandes ciudades, trans. Joaquin Moragues (Barcelona, 1921), p. 173. 33. Ecclesia (1941), no. 8, p. 8; no. 14, pp. 13-14; no. 24, p. 7; (1944), no. 162, p. 21; no. 166, p. 11. 34. Although frequently commented upon by students of the church in Franco's Spain, the surge in late vocations did not mean any substantial increase in the number of adults seeking to enter seminaries. It referred in a technical sense to aspirants between fourteen and twenty-five who were considered late vocations in comparison with the usual age of seminary entrance of from ten to fourteen. Fernando Urbina, "Formas de vida de la Iglesia en Espaiia: 1939-1975," in Eglesia y sociedad en Espaia, 1939-1975 (Madrid, 1977), p. 29. 35. Ecclesia (1941), no. 14, pp. 13-14; (1944), no. 162, p. 21. 36. In 1927, for example, the secular clergy numbered 32,002, priests in the religious orders, 12,219. In 1967, prior to a dramatic fall in vocations, seculars numbered 25,906, priests in the orders, 9,969. Anuario estadistico de Espaia, 1927 (Madrid, 1929), pp. 601-605; Jesus Maria Vazquez, La Iglesia espaiola contemporanea (Madrid, 1967), p. 165.



The repair of material damage and the recruitment of new clerical personnel presented problems in the years immediately following the end of the war. Such problems paled into insignificance, though, before the objective the church had set for itself of rechristianizing the nation. The clergy expected that the social, educational, and cultural controls bestowed on it by the Franco regime would play an important role in this process. But the church also sought to achieve its goal through pastoral means. There was, however, little innovative or imaginative about the methods employed. Bishops and priests continued to emphasize, as they always had, "the teaching of the catechism to adults, the fulfillment of the Easter communion obligation, practice of the Stations of the Cross, the preparation of first communions and the organization of missions or spiritual exercises."37 Clergy viewed with satisfaction the enormous participation in the religious ceremonies which they organized indefatigably in the post-war years. It should be noted, however, that many of these collective manifestations of religious sentiment also had a distinctly political character that celebrated the triumph of the church over its enemies. Participants in the 1939 Corpus Christi procession in Madrid intoned hymns, but they also sang the anthems of the Falange, the quasi-fascist party of the regime, and gave "constant vivas to Christ the King, the Spanish army and its unconquerable Caudillo." The Catholic press repeatedly boasted of the mingling of religion and patriotism in church ceremonies, proclaiming "one Caudillo, one faith, and advance in the name of God and eternal Spain."38 Of the pastoral initiatives undertaken by the church, none was more ambitious than the vast campaign of popular missions organized throughout the country, particularly in 1941 and 1942. The church, of course, had employed the mission as an instrument of popular evangelization since the Council of Trent. However, the missions of the post-war period differed substantially from their predecessors. The church broke with the traditional pattern of structuring the mission around parish churches in favor of a massive organizational framework embracing entire cities. Over 500 priests drawn from the religious orders, for example, preached in 200 churches, rented halls, and factories during the great Barcelona mission of 1941, while the Seville mission of the same year employed more than 200 priests. Organizers of the missions conducted elaborate public relations campaigns designed to attract the public. At Vigo in 1942, using funds donated by the municipal and provincial governments, banks, and business firms, organizers placed announcements in all store windows and illuminated crosses on the city's streetcars. Thirty cyclists in La Coruinadistributed leaflets through the

37. Ecclesia (1943), no. 89, p. 19. 38. Ya, 9 June 1939; 7 February 1940.




town. In Salamanca, youths distributed 30,000 leaflets "recalling eternal truths" to the population.39 Unlike earlier missions, those of the post-war period were organized to serve various functional constituencies. Thus, at Vigo more than 20,000 people attended the customary "general" mission in parish churches. But separate centers served school children (12,000), secondary school students (3,000), military personnel (2,700), municipal employees (150), dressmakers and female servants (1,700), factory workers (4,000), transport workers (1,000), newspaper employees (200), and jail inmates (450). The great public ceremonies held at various times during a mission were designed to impress and inspire. The Vigo mission opened with a procession of 45,000 faithful led through the streets by priests carrying crosses aloft and accompanied by representatives of Catholic associations bearing their standards. A "rosary of the sea" attracted a crowd of 80,000 to watch a flotilla of twenty-four boats escort a vessel carrying a statue of the Virgin. Priests using loudspeakers then recited the rosary for the thousands gathered on the harbor's shore.40 Thousands of confessions and communions recorded during the missions seemed to offer firm evidence to the clergy of a religious revival. Moreover, the church believed that the missions at last had succeeded in moderating the traditional alienation of the working class. It was reported that missionary preachers in poor districts of Barcelona were received "with emotion and enthusiasm" by the people and that "surprising cases of conversion" had taken place. The clergy saw the thousands of couples who sought canonical marriage, 45,000 in Seville alone, as an indication of "sincere repentance" on the part of those who had married in civil ceremonies during the Republic.41 That the missions were impressive for their size and organization is evident. Indeed, they were unique in the history of modern Spanish Catholicism. Whether they indicated the existence of a religious revival is less certain. From a pastoral perspective, missions always have appeared to suffer from the weakness of arousing religious sentiment that is short-lived. Moreover, an element of social and political compulsion was present in the great missions of 1941 and 1942. Factory workers in Vigo, for example, received time off from their employers to attend. Few would have dared to absent themselves from the services given the social and political climate of the times. Some critics within the church expressed doubts about claims of a religious revival. Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer, whose moderation had earned him the
39. "Santas misiones en Barcelona y Sevilla," Ecclesia (1941), no. 7, pp. 8-9; "Santa misi6n de Vigo por Padres de la Compafiia de Jesus," Sal Terrae 30 (1942): 402; "Santa misi6n de la Corufia," ibid., p. 302. "Misiones generales en Salamanca," Boletin oficial del obispado de Salamanca (1940), p. 125. 40. "Santa misi6n de Vigo," pp. 403-405. 41. "Santas misiones en Barcelona y Sevilla," p. 8.





hostility of Franco, believed that the "external manifestations of the cult" that had multiplied in nationalist Spain were less "a religious manifestation" than a political reaction against the "persecuting laicism" of the Republic.42 Although it is impossible to know the motives of the thousands who participated in religious ceremonies in the post-war years, there are solid grounds for accepting Vidal i Barraquer's judgment. The intense emotions, already aroused by conflicts during the Republic and heightened by the war, created a mood of militant exaltation among the clergy and lay activists who proclaimed their commitment to a "victorious Christianity."43 This militant activism found its strongest expression in the Catholic Action movement. A lay organization operating under episcopal authority, Catholic Action played an important role in resisting anticlerical legislation during the Republic. The war exacted a heavy toll, however, as a result of executions in the republican zone and of battle casualties. In 1939 a reorganized movement began a period of expansion and renewed activity. Membership in the province of Zaragoza tripled between 1938 and 1940. In the nation as a whole, the number of members increased from 41,000 on the eve of the war to more than 100,000 by 1941.44 Members of Catholic Action achieved significant political influence in the regime. But it is sometimes forgotten that they also contributed to the rechristianizing campaigns organized after the war during that period of reduced clerical numbers. In Seville, for instance, more than a thousand young women from the movement circulated through the dechristianized countryside in an ambitious program of religious education launched in 1943.45 In spite of its activity and its increased size after the war, Catholic Action remained what it always had been: a vaguely elitist organization with an overwhelmingly middle-class membership. In many respects it mirrored the condition of Spanish Catholicism, "whose adherents, nearly completely bourgeois, [and] with the war recently won, had to confront the fact that much of the country lived outside Catholicism."46 Insofar as it is possible to refer to a religious revival immediately after the war, it took place among that part of the population that long had been loyal to the church. The objective of attracting the urban working class to the church proved more difficult, in spite of the resources, both material and pastoral, committed to this effort. On the one hand, the ecclesiastical authorities took heart from reports of progress such as that made by the parish priest of Chamartin in
42. Ramon Muntanyola, Vidal i Barraquer: el cardenal de la paz, 2d ed. (Barcelona, 1974), p. 422. 43. Miguel Benzo Mestre, "Tres etapas de la Acci6n Cat6lica espanola," Ecclesia (1964), no. 1, p. 185. 44. Ibid. (1941), no. 9, p. 11; no. 21, p. 11. 45. Ibid. (1943), no. 124, p. 21. 46. Jose Maria Escudero, "La eficacia del catolicismo espafiol," in Catolicismo espahol: aspectos actuales (Madrid, 1955), p. 113.



Madrid. When he took up his charge in 1940, the local population received him with "glacial coldness." But within two years the number of residents fulfilling the Easter communion obligation rose from 16.6 percent to 41 percent. On the other hand, there were indications that it would be far from easy to break the historic pattern of working-class alienation from the church. In 1941 the Madrid parish of San Ramon in Vallecas reported that there were still 10,000 unbaptized children within its limits. Only 5,000 of the parish's 90,000 residents attended Sunday mass, and the vast majority of couples married in the parish church could neither make the sign of the cross nor recite the "Our Father."47 An assessment of the religious condition of any country presents methodological and interpretative problems; in the case of Spain, these are particularly acute. The introduction of the religious sociology associated with Gabriel Le Bras into Spain during the 1950s provided for the first time reasonable, if incomplete, statistics on observance. On the basis of the research carried out thus far, one must conclude that there is little evidence to suggest that the church succeeded in breaking the historic pattern of religious indifference among urban industrial workers, although some amelioration has taken place. Rogelio Duocastella's statistics for the industrial town of Mataro show that reception of the last sacraments (one indicator of religiosity used by religious sociologists) fell from 53.1 percent in 1900 to 32.3 percent by 1940, but then increased to 57.5 percent in 1945 before slipping to 48.2 percent in 1955. The Fundacion Foessa sociological survey of 1970, in which it was reported that approximately one-third of the respondents in the category of workers-employees practiced their religion on a regular basis, suggests that the church managed to recover some lost ground during the forty years of the Franco regime.48 Yet there are reasons for believing that the survey's authors were optimistic in their assessment as well as imprecise in their categories. In a 1958 survey of some 15,000 industrial workers, it was found that only 7.6 percent attended Sunday mass; 28.5 percent fulfilled their Easter duty, although 86.1 percent had been baptized, had married in the church, and desired a Christian burial.49 These mixed signals suggest a complex pattern of belief and practice that differs from the simple model of christianization-dechristianization employed by social commentators for the period before the civil war. It is at least clear that at the level of formal observance the church experienced only limited success, in spite of the powerful instruments of social control in its hands during the Franco years. The situation in southern Spain offered fewer hopeful signs. In 1941,
47. La parroquia de Chamartin en los suburbios madrilefios," Ecclesia (1942), no. 29, p. 9; no. 8, p. 8. 48. Duocastella, Matar6: 1955, p. 290; Amando de Miguel et al., Informe sociolbgicosobre la situacion social de Espaiia (Madrid, 1972), p. 106. 49. Alfredo C. Comin, Espaia, ,pais de misi6n? (Barcelona, 1966), p. 80.



6,671 of the 44,000 residents of Jaen attended Sunday mass. The situation was considerably worse in smaller towns of the province, such as Alcala la Real, where only 1,700 of the town's population of 30,000 attended mass on a regular basis. There is little indication that the church improved its fortunes over time. A 1961 report lamented the "distressing aspect" of the rural towns of Andalusia, where few residents participated in religious activities.50And the most recent survey of observance in the south (1985) records uniformly low attendance at Sunday mass in most of the southern dioceses: Almeria, 17.80 percent; Cadiz, 15.57 percent; Jaen, 24.83 percent; Seville, 16.73 percent; and so on.51 These statistics say little, of course, about the quality of religious life or the degree of religious commitment among the population, both observant and nonobservant. They do indicate, however, that the militant Catholic activism that developed during the 1930s and continued through the early Franco years did not recreate in modern guise that Catholic Spain of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries so enthusiastically evoked by apologists of Franco's "New Spain." By the mid-1950s, confidence in what historians have come to call Spanish National Catholicism began to ebb within the church. The historic conditions that had given twentieth-century Catholicism in Spain a distinctive character slowly changed, bringing a new mood of self-criticism, the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, and the transformation of society itself under the impact of massive economic change. Only then could the church set aside its goal of rechristianizing the nation through compulsion in favor of new initiatives which made it, in 1975 at Franco's death, a very different institution from the one that for decades had supported the regime so strongly.
50. Segundo Congreso de misionespopulares (Madrid, 1961), p. 199. 51. Secretariado Nacional de Liturgia, Asistencia a la misa dominical (Madrid, 1985), table 4.