Saturday, September 09, 2006

Los Santos de la Humosa

Yesterday morning I was in a local parish to participate in their patronal Feast. We waited outside the Church to receive the Mayor and local Council accompanied by the Queens and Dames of the town and, of course, a band playing the Spanish National Anthem.

The Church was full, although many of those present didn´t seem to have much of a clue about what was going on. The parish priest reminded everyone that if they didn´t ordinarily attend Mass they couldn´t receive Communion without first going to confession. Later one of the town´s three socialist councillors complained asking who gave him the authority to make such an announcement. He had to point out kindly that the Catholic Church is not subject to any earthly authority (especially hers!).

After Mass the Queens and Dames were photographed presenting bunches of flowers to the image of Our Lady - which they then took back before leaving the Church to keep as souvenirs! The band then led us back to the centre of the town where there were drinks and tapas for everyone, before a splendid lunch in a local restuarant presided over by the Mayor, with the town Council (the socialists didn´t come), the Queens and Dames, a local Naval Commander, the head of the Civil Guard and other dignitaries all suitably attired.

In Spain the Socialists have a (well-deserved) reputation for being very anti-Catholic. But local politics is an amorphous beast in Spanish towns. In Los Santos de la Humosa the Mayor is from the Partido Popular (conservatives) although all his life he was a communist. On the other hand the socialist councillor who complained about the announcement at Mass used to be a member of the Spanish Phalange, and organised the coach from the town that went to Franco´s funeral. A couple of facts which explain an exchange of insults at a recent council meeting when the socialist denounced the Mayor for being a communist and he responded that she was a fascist!

The ´Santos´in the town´s name are saints Justus and Pastor, two child martyrs. ´La Humosa´is the local invocation of Our Lady whose statue was rediscovered in a smoking pit after the reconquest of Spain. The hymn in her honour speaks of her being ignored for six centuries before being liberated ´del moro invasor´- from the invading Moor.
Clearly these Spanish towns are not the best place to study politics or interfaith dialogue!

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