Books by Jr. Christian

Released: March 1, 1996

Intelligent and carefully researched account of the religio-political setting for a wave of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Spain on the eve of that country's Civil War. In June 1931, shortly after Spain had become a republic and anticlerical mobs were burning religious houses in several cities, sightings of Mary and the saints began at Ezkioga in the Basque Country and spread to dozens of towns across the nation. The author, an independent scholar who has written previously about apparitions in medieval Spain, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and unearthed contemporary diaries and clandestine publications in order to recreate the world of the visionaries. Devoting the first half of his book to the sequence of events, he describes religious currents in Basque and Catalan patriotism and the effect of the central government's fiercely antireligious policies on ordinary people. We read of seers such as the carpenter Patxi Goicoechea, who claimed that the Virgin called for the overthrow of the republic, and of many other key figures, such as Father Antonio Amundarain, who had founded a new and powerful kind of pious association for laypeople and was an early promoter of the visions. Christian goes on to explore aspects of the visions, e.g., how Ezkioga linked the rural poor with the industrial wealthy at the very time when the antireligious left defined social class as an issue. The author underlines the role of women and draws helpful comparisons with the apparitions at Lourdes and the Belgian sites of Beauraing and Banneux. We learn details of the trancelike states of the seers and of their fortunes after the Vatican's disavowal of their visions in 1934. Passing no judgments, Christian writes with respect for the seers' Catholic faith and Spanish culture, which he does not share but has certainly entered into. (114 photos, not seen; 2 maps) Read full book review >