Picture of a Clandestine Mass in Spain during the 1930's
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Note - the priest doesn’t even have vestments and is dressed as a civilian

Over 38,000 Spanish Catholics were killed by their own government between 1936 and 1939 (some sources estimate that the number is closer to 112,000 lives lost), 6,800 of whom were priests and bishops. The mere numbers rival those seen during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, which was notorious for almost running the Church out of France. The “Red Terror” in Spain was detrimental to the Church, but outside of Spain, the stories of those martyred are largely unknown.

It started in 1931. Communist, anti-clerical, and anti-monarchist republicans established a new constitution and republic in Spain. The church and the monarchy had a long history of closeness and were seen by the new government as one in the same. They wrote a new constitution that declared religious orders, Catholic schools, seminaries, and Catholic cemeteries unlawful. Churches were burned and priceless religious arts were destroyed.

By 1936, anti-Catholicism feelings were at an all-time high. Priests were taken from their parishes and publicly executed without trial, often in the middle of Mass, or in the middle of the night.

Anyone seen going in or out of the church, wearing a crucifix, or showing any outward sign of Catholicism were taken and killed, even if their faith was slightly suspected. Neighbors and friends ratted known Catholics out and priests and bishops were forced into hiding.

There weren’t many places outside of Spain they could escape to as the world plummeted into a Great Depression and the early hostilities of World War II were just beginning to brew.

It wasn’t until the military dictator Francisco Franco overturned the government in 1938 through militaristic rebellion that order began to resume. ...Order was slowly restored by his heavy militaristic hand. Spain stayed under his leadership for 40 years. Now, a socialist government is in place. They are known for being very pro what the Church is against, including same-sex marriage, abortion, and easy divorce. The Church in Spain was shaken, in some ways, it’s still recovering and trying to pick up the broken pieces.

The numbers alone are troubling. But we have a beautiful example found with the faithful in Spain, who held their faith close, prayed for their country, and hoped for heaven should they be martyred. We can draw from their example, no matter where we stand politically.

Let us pray for the souls of those who persecuted the church and continue to do so in our modern age, and let us ask for the intercession of the Spanish Martyrs in the mist of these troubled, uncertain times.

Blessed Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, pray for us!

Source - adpated
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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