What is now the country of Spain was first civilized
by the Roman Empire and evangelized by the apostle St. James. An independent Spanish kingdom was established by the
Visigoths, barbarians who had converted to the Arian heresy, but later converted to the Catholic Church. Their kingdom
was overthrown by Moslem invaders from Arabia and North Africa. The 800 year war to liberate Spain from these "Moors"
was called the reconquista and was completed by the Catholic monarchs Fernando and Isabel who reunited Spain as a Christian
kingdom. Under their patronage and that of their successors, missionaries were sent to far-flung Spanish colonies throughout
the world. Today about 30% of all members of the Catholic Church are native speakers of Spanish. In the 20th century,
an attempt by the Communists to take control of Spain, was defeated by a bloody civil war.
Unfortunately in our day, Spain is surrendering to
the hedonistic culture of post-modern Europe. The birth rate is one of the lowest in Europe as contraception and homosexuality
have become very popular. Magnificent churches are empty except for tourists, and the "Moors" are returning, building
To help move Spain toward a Christian future
even more glorious than its past, the Society of Our Lady (SOLT) is proposing two mission
sites. One is Agreda, the city of Blessed Maria de Agreda. (See below City of God). The
other is Seville, diocese of Carlos Cardinal Amigo Vallejo, a dynamic archbishop and
prince of the Church. Spain Christianized many foreign lands and now some must come from foreign lands to re-Christianize
St. James, the patron of Spain, whose
shrine is at Santiago de Compostela, was the brother of St. John the Evangelist and son of Zebedee
and Salome. Our Lord called the brothers “sons of thunder” in tribute
to their great, if occasionally misguided, zeal for the Kingdom of God. With John, James was present at the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and also volunteered
to drink the cup of martyrdom, when their mother Salome interceded with Our Lord to grant them the highest places in His Kingdom. After Pentecost, James was assigned to evangelize Spain
and spent several years there before returning to Jerusalem. There he was martyred by King Herod, the first of the Twelve Apostles to receive the crown of martyrdom. His disciples placed his body in a boat which was miraculously carried to the Atlantic
coast of northern Spain by winds and tides. A local ruler, Queen Lupa, had his body brought to a tomb further inland for burial. The location of the tomb was lost, but in the 9th Century, a hermit named Pelayo rediscovered
the tomb after having a vision. The king of what was then Asturias and Galicia
built a shrine at the site, which after a couple of centuries became the third most popular pilgrimage site in Christendom
after Rome and Jerusalem. Devotion to St. James inspired the Spanish knights
in their fight to free their land from the Moslem “Moors”. The pilgrimage
route to Santiago de Campostela, which begins in Paris or other French cities,
has become increasingly popular again over the last 20 years and has been declared the First European Cultural Route by the
Council of Europe.
Tradition says that in the early day of the Church, Saint James the Greater was spreading the Gospel in Spain, but making very little progress. He was dejected and questioning his mission. About 44 AD, the Virgin Mary, who was still living in Jerusalem at the time, bi-located and appeared to him in a vision to boost
his morale. In it, she was atop a column or pillar, which was being carried by angels. That pillar is believed to be the same one venerated in Zaragoza, Spain today. Miraculous
healings are reported at the scene.
In 1620, Our Lady appeared to Mary of Agreda, a Poor Clare sister
who lived in Spain. The Virgin inspired Blessed Mary to write a visionary work called The Mystical City of God. For many years this was a controversial work, but after World War II, it became quite popular among devout
Catholics in the United States. During her lifetime, Blessed Mary bi-located to what is now New Mexico, and evangelized Indian
tribes who had not yet seen any European. They reported her missionary work to
astonished Spanish Franciscans and exactly described her, confirming what was written in her own diary. The Society of Our Lady (SOLT) was founded in New Mexico in 1958 and has a formation house there. We
now pray for Blessed Mary’s intercession in the re-evangelization of her native Spain.