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Spanish lawyer, mom of 4, challenges country’s rosary ban

Polonia Castellanos, founder of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ann Arbor, Michigan, Dec 8, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Growing numbers of Catholics continue to defy Spain’s socialist government by publicly praying the rosary for the country as it faces spiritual, political, and economic turbulence that a pro-life lawyer says stems from a crisis in values and clear persecution against the Catholic Church.

CNA recently interviewed Polonia Castellanos, a prominent attorney who has recently defended Catholics arrested for praying the rosary outside a Madrid church. Christian Lawyers of Spain (, founded by Castellanos, has filed a complaint against Madrid’s municipal government alleging that it had abused its authority by sending police to stop public prayer outside Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

The nonprofit legal team asserted that the city government “has no authority to limit a fundamental right, which is the right to religious liberty.” Castellanos told CNA: “This government has begun an authentic persecution of Christians. They will not deter us. This government sends peaceful people to prison for simply praying while annulling all kinds of criminal convictions for its partners.”

Rosary rallies in the country have coincided with large-scale protests against an amnesty law that the government offered to socialists and communists for the failed 2017 bid by Catalonia to secede from the rest of Spain. 

At the initiative of José Andrés Calderón, a young Spanish law student, hundreds of Catholics have been gathering daily at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Crowds assembled outside the church throughout November and continue to grow in tandem with the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Advent season. In at least 50 other Spanish cities on Dec. 8, Catholics also assembled to pray the rosary. 

On Nov. 28, Calderón was arrested by police and fined. He remarked that Spain’s government has made it illegal to pray both near the church and the DATOR abortuary, also located in Madrid. Calderón told ACIPrensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that Catholics should “not be afraid to worship God and venerate his most pure Mother.”

Calderón said that since Christian Lawyers was founded in 2008, matters have worsened.

“Abortion is more radical, euthanasia is more radical; Catholics are constantly attacked,” he said. Bombs were thrown at a church; priests and nuns have been assaulted … when we were insulted or offended, or when our crosses were wrecked, we said nothing. It’s because we didn’t say anything that we’re now in this situation,” he emphasized.

Castellanos said her firm has presented at least 100 cases before courts to defend religious liberty and Catholic monuments. She fears for the future of her four daughters, including a 10-month-old, and that Spain may soon resemble Cuba or Venezuela.

“That’s why I do this. It’s my duty to leave a better world to my daughters. The first thing my husband and I do is teach them to try to make the world a better place. It is our parental duty that, when we are no longer here, they live in a world that respects human life and family, with the understanding that a family is that formed by one man and one woman; where Spain’s history, Christian roots, and heritage are respected, and that we’re not persecuted simply for being Catholic,” Castellanos said.  

Castellanos told CNA that the government “doesn’t respect the law and changes it according to its whim. We filed a complaint against the government in Madrid because it issued an order without justification — simply because it is a dictatorship. We are resisting by appealing to the law because they can’t forbid us from praying peacefully on the street just because the government says so.”

“There are plenty of times when the Virgin Mary has come to Spain’s aid,” Castellanos said, “and we are certain she will help us now.”

“The socialist government wants to put some people above the law who can break the law and not suffer penalties,” she continued. “It has pardoned serious crimes of sedition, narco-trafficking, money-laundering for some people who can commit crimes. Its only demand is that they continue to vote for President [Pedro] Sánchez. This is not only illegal but also discriminates against Spaniards who haven’t committed such serious crimes but still have to pay.”

Castellanos said “Spain’s economic crisis came following a crisis in values,” saying that abortion and euthanasia have led to an aging population and economic decline that have not been addressed by political parties. Appealing for help, Castellanos asked the world to take notice of Spain’s plight.

“Keep Spain in your prayers because things are difficult,” she said. “People are being imprisoned for praying the rosary, but rapists, pederasts, and secessionists are freed. Pray for Spain and the Spanish people. We have God and Mother Mary at our side. Spain is the Virgin Mary’s land, but we are fighting a very hard fight.”

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