Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s telling quote comes to life in Spain’s little city of Avila. Every corner of the city seems to call out to God through its many churches, devotion to St. Theresa of Avila, and religious processions.
I sense that there is an underlying bitterness towards the Catholic Church here in Spain, in my contemporary Spanish philosophy at Complutense University, or in conversations I have had with people, both young and old, for example. Much of the repulsion is rooted in Spain’s history with Franco’s dictatorship. Until this weekend, I had mostly seen religion as something acceptable only within one’s parish or personal life, but never acceptably lived in the public sphere. Yet in Avila, religion is everywhere. I took about 250 photos and realized that almost 200 of them had something religious in them, like a church or a cross. I also experienced my first religion procession! My Spanish friends explained that the tradition began to help the illiterate understand the stories of Jesus in the Bible. Entire cities would follow gigantic statues that reenacted biblical stories all throughout the city, singing, and stopping for biblical readings. In this way, all people had the opportunity to understand their faith and feel a closeness to the religion they worshipped. Yet, to see people of all ages following the enormous statues of Jesus Christ and St. Theresa of Avila in 2014 was awe-inspiring. Perhaps one can say that today it is all just empty tradition, but after being there firsthand, I just don’t think that explains it entirely.
Stay tuned for my next post. It’s going to be intense.
Thanks for reading!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Sofia--perhaps Sofía is more fitting in this case--is a third year Philosophy and Spanish Literature student at Fordham University. Some of her interests include photography, translating, singing, learning foreign languages, and cats--specifically red chubby ones. As the daughter of a Milanese mother, and New Yorker father, with a passion for Latin America, Sofia often finds herself lost in translation sipping on her favorite drink--yerba mate. She wants to spend her semester abroad in Madrid, Spain with her eyes wide open to live the experience to the full allowing you to take a step into her life. ¡Ven a ver!</span></p>