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PHOTOS: Rosary for Spain prayed in more than 100 cities on feast of Immaculate Conception

A crowd prays the rosary in Madrid, Spain, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of Spain, Dec. 8, 2023. / Credit: ACI Prensa

ACI Prensa Staff, Dec 12, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

More than 100 cities joined in praying the rosary for Spain on Dec. 8, the feast of the country’s patroness, the Immaculate Conception, asking for her intercession due to the political, social, and moral crisis in the nation and in response to attempts to suppress religious freedom. 

A flash point in the crisis came when in order to stay in power, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the ruling coalition Spanish Socialist Workers (PSOE) Party announced a deal with independence-leaning Catalan and Basque political parties to grant amnesty to the leaders of the illegal 2017 Catalonian referendum to secede from Spain who are in prison for sedition. 

The move sparked demonstrations near the PSOE headquarters in Madrid and a public rosary in front of the nearby Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In response to a call for a nationwide public rosary, groups large and small gathered on the streets and squares of Spain, although the gathering in Madrid was especially large, as close to 500 people attended.

In addition, these rosary rallies were held in numerous countries in Hispanic America, such as the United States (Miami), Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

A few minutes before starting to pray the rosary in Madrid, the organizing volunteers set up an improvised altar adorned with a Spanish flag emblazoned with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and with a statue of the Immaculate Conception set upon it.

The carving of the Virgin Mary was flanked by two candles. Behind the altar, two women held another Spanish flag with the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on it. To one side, a young man raised a crucifix above the gathered crowd.

An image of the Virgin Mary presides over the prayer of the rosary for the unity of Spain on Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: ACI Prensa

Joyful mysteries prayed

Before praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary — chosen because it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception despite it being Friday, when it is customary to meditate on the sorrowful mysteries — the manifesto written for the occasion was read.

The declaration, which was released on Dec. 5, states that “the Spanish nation is at a crossroads” that translates into a “moral and spiritual bankruptcy.” This is due, among other reasons, to the fact that “the ruling party-cratic oligarchy has forgotten, on most occasions, the function of any just form of government: seeking the common good.” The manifesto stressed that “the role that laypeople must play is crucial” and that prayer is “the most powerful weapon that a servant of God can have.”

Laypeople gather before the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Madrid to pray the rosary for Spain on Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: ACI Prensa

After each mystery, the usual short prayers were said as well as the invocation that has been repeated since these public manifestations of faith began: “Mother of God and Our Mother, save Spain and the entire world.”

At the conclusion of the Litany to the Blessed Virgin, to which the invocations of “Queen of Victory” and “Queen of Spain” were added, the Salve Regina was sung with devotion.

This served as preparation to carry out an act of consecration to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, composed by the sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady (ODN). The order is an institute of consecrated life that makes monastic life compatible with apostolic activity in the field of teaching and was founded in 1607 by the Frenchwoman Sister Jeanne de Lestonnac.

In the text of this consecration, Mary’s help was requested “for building the civilization of love, being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and to guard the faith “in the face of any error and any lack of love.”

Text of the consecration to the Immaculate Conception prayed by Spain on the day of its patron saint, Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: ACI Prensa

“Bless our families and protect our homeland, the cradle of so many saints who loved you and imitated you with fervor,” the text continued, imploring Our Lady’s help “so that with nobility of soul we may be builders of peace and unity.”

“Never allow us to grieve your mother’s heart. Accept this prayer that we address to you as sons and daughters of the Church in Spain and give us light so that all our decisions may always be guided by your heart, which is a refuge and impetus for our conversion. Place us with Jesus and write our names today on your Immaculate Heart,” the text concluded.

Defending a Christian Spain

José Andrés Calderón, who has been leading the public rosary in Madrid that the authorities had banned as an unlawful assembly for lack of proper notification, spoke at the conclusion of the prayer. He first recalled the miraculous victory of Spanish troops over Protestant forces at Empel, Holland, which gave rise to the Immaculate Conception being named the patroness of the Spanish Infantry and later the entire nation.

“In critical moments, the Spanish people reacts and is never alone. It always goes hand in hand with God and the Virgin Mary. We saw it in Empel, we saw it in Covadonga, and we see it here today,” he assured.

A man adorned in the flag of Spain prays the rosary for Spain on Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: ACI Prensa

In 720, Islamic Moors and Christian forces clashed in the Battle of Covadonga, a decisive engagement that marked the beginning of the sporadic but eventual total liberation of Spain from Muslim domination in 1492.

“We are heirs of a Spain that is not resigned to dying. Of a Spain that defends itself and does not bow down to betrayal. In short, a Spain that always entrusts itself to Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother in the most turbulent circumstances,” he continued.

Calderón said that those who gathered to pray the rosary in so many places have a common vocation: “Defending a Christian Spain, because our nation cannot be understood without the cross.”

“The times of being secluded in our churches and in the privacy of our homes are over. We must be proud of the faith that our ancestors bequeathed to us,” he proclaimed, megaphone in hand, to the applause of those in attendance.

Rosary for Spain to be prayed on first Saturdays

In his speech, Calderón asserted that “those who think that we are going to leave this place are wrong” as well as those who believe that “by threatening us, fining us, and coercing us they are going to make us abandon our faith. “Those who try to gag us through mockery are up against a brick wall.”

Referring to the initial government repression, the young Spanish law student said: “It’s over. Tomorrow, the day after and the next we will continue at Ferraz [Street in Madrid], worshipping God and calling on the intercession of the Immaculate Conception. To these same people we say that we pray for Spain, but we also pray for their souls and conversion.”

After appealing to the need for perseverance, Calderón announced that, in addition to continuing to pray the rosary every day at Ferraz Street in front of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, “we are going to go one step further,” praying the rosary for the unity of Spain on the national level, every first Saturday of the month, a proposal that was welcomed with applause by those present.

José Andrés Calderón, one of the promoters of the public prayer of the rosary for Spain, speaks at the rosary for Spain on Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: ACI Prensa

“We Catholics have reacted and this flame of faith is not going to stop. The salvation of Spain lies in prayer,” he said, clarifying that this initiative is not linked to any ecclesiastical movement or party: “We are simply humble Catholics who are tremendously concerned about our nation. It’s time for the Christian people to unite and flood the streets in defense of our religion and Spain.”

“It’s time for courage and prayer. Christ will win. Long live Christ the King! Long live Catholic Spain! Long live the Immaculate Conception!” he concluded, after which a priest gave a blessing to those present.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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