[map of Spain] Parliamentary monarchy in southwest Europe. Christianity was introduced into Spain during the Roman domination. According to tradition, the Apostles, Saint Paul and Saint James, and seven Apostolic men came to Spain and founded several churches. Prudentius claims that Spain had martyrs in every persecution. Under the Visigoths, the Catholic kings of France took upon themselves the protection of the Hispano-Roman Catholics. As a result of the religious unity formulated by the Third Council of Toledo in 589, the Goths and Hispano-Romans united to form the Spanish nation. In 839 when Spain was under Arab rule, a council of archbishops and bishops met at Cordoba, and the age of the martyrs began in 850. Persecution again broke out in 853, and monks, presbyters, and virgins were slaughtered. At the time of the Reconquest every element of the Spanish race was already present in the kingdom of the Catholic Goths: the Latinized Celtiberian race or Hispano-Romans, the Gothic element, and the Catholic Faith. To bring about a fusion of these elements, the terrible Mussulman invasion was needed. As a result, the Goths and Hispano-Romans in the north formed one people with one religion and one aim, to recapture Spain and place the Cross above the Crescent. As the reconquest progressed, churches were rebuilt; Ferdinand I began a new restoration, convoked the Council of Coyanza in 1050, fostered churches and monasteries, and restored many dioceses. The Cluniac reform entered Spain in the 11th century, and French monks greatly influenced the substitution of the Roman for the Mozarabic Rite. The Cistercian Reform was introduced when Saint Bernard was still alive, and the cathedral chapters adopted the rule of Saint Augustine. At this time also the first military orders came into existence. In the 13th century the Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, and the Order of the Most Holy Trinity established themselves in Spain. The religious unity of Spain was achieved by the expulsion of the Jews and the introduction of the Inquisition.

In 1812 the Cortes of Cadiz drew up the first Liberal Constitution, which showed some regard for Catholic unity. According to the Liberal Constitution of 1837, Catholic unity was not provided for, although the Catholic religion was declared to be that of the Spaniards. The Constitution of 1845 named Catholicism the state religion, but the Concordat of 1851 settled the new conditions of the Church. The Liberal Constitution of 1869 granted freedom of worship, maintaining the Catholic religion, however. Finally the Constitution of 1876, under the Restoration, admitted religious toleration but held the supremacy of the Catholic Faith. Today about 94% of the population profess the Catholic religion. Liberty of worship is granted to all religious bodies. Although the Concordat of 1851 states that only the orders of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Philip Neri, with one other to be subsequently named, should be permitted in Spain, many other orders have been allowed to found houses there. The communities of the religious orders are numerous and influential, and the number of Catholic social enterprises continues to grow.

Ecclesiastically, the country is governed by the archdioceses of the dioceses of and the See also
New Catholic Dictionary

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