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SPAIN: Catalonia



Catalonia has become a leading topic of our exchange, and the opinions about it are varied. Catalan militant nationalism is sometimes intolerant, leftist, and secular, but, like Basque nationalism, it was originally Catholic and conservative. The important difference is that, with the Carlistas, Basque Catholic nationalism was not only militant but military. When I went to Barcelona in 1932 I stayed with the Pujol family on Via Layetana. I have regrettably lost touch with them. It was a very Catholic family. During the Civil War, Juan fought with the Nationalist forces. Thinking he would be interested, I gave him a copy of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, Juan did not appreciate it. He simply said "That's not the way it was".

Another Catalan Catholic conservative was the historian Fernando Valls Taberner, whom I saw again in Madrid when he was a deputy to the Spanish parliament. He too was an extremely kind person. Suddenly this summer his grandson Luis Valls, who never knew his grandfather, turned up for the Stanford Summer School. He had his family send me a copy of the second edition of the book by Fernando Valls Taberner on San Raimundo de Pañafort, entitled San Ramón de Penyafort (Barcelona; La Hormiga de Oro, 1998. Pp. 245, numerous illustrations). Ramón and Raimundo are variants; I do not know why both are used indiscriminately. The prologue is by Eugenio Gay Montsalvo, the president of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers. The first edition of the book was published in Barcelona in 1936, just before the Civil War, A biographical note tells the life of Fernando Valls Taberner. He was born in 1888 in Barcelona. He studied in the faculties of law and letters. He was essentially an archivist and professor of history; I have a copy of his two-volume history of Catalonia. He was very active in the Institute of Catalan Studies, which I attended. When the Civil War broke out, he and his family took refuge in Italy, where he taught history to the monarch in exile, Don Juan. He returned to Spain in April 1937, and more precisely to Córdoba, which was controlled by Franco. He was put in charge of the provincial museum. The same year he traveled to several Latin American countries on a "political-cultural" mission with José Ibáñez Martin, Eugenio Montes and Father Peyró. After the war he resumed his work as an archivist and professor of history in Barcelona. He died there in 1942 at the age of 1942. He had just returned from Germany, where he had given lectures at the invitation of the University of Leipzig. This was during World War II. Here was a decent, kind man who sided with Franco. I do not know what his attitude was toward Hitler and World War II. I am curious to know how the present generation of Catalan intellectuals view him, assuming that they remember him.

He was very Catholic and a member of the Opus Dei, the aim of which is to get professional people to lead a Christian life. This takes us to the biography of San Raimundo de Peñafort, the patron saint of Barcelona lawyers. He is buried in Barcelona cathedral, but when I visited it I do not recall noticing the tomb. I have consulted a number of reference works and can find no reference to him, even thought he is described as one of the great minds of the thirteen century. He was a specialist in canon law. Chapter 11 is devoted to San Ramón and the beginnings of the Inquisition. . The Dominicans, of which the saint was a member, were in charge of the Inquisition. The chapter discusses the Albigensian heresy, which spread to the north of Catalonia and Aragon. Chapter 13 deals with"the Christian-rabbinical controversies of the 13th century". The Jewish position was defended by Rabbi ben Nahman, to whom King James I had given permission to speak his mind freely. Born between 1180 and 1185, the saint died in 1275. He was canonized in 1601. A poem of the period described one of his miracles: he traveled from Majorca to Barcelona using his mantle as a boat. A painting shows him doing it. An appendix reproduces three articles by Valls Taberner, dealing with such problems as the saint and the problem of just war. In 1940 the San Raimundo Institute for the Study of Canon Law was established in Salamanca. In 1946 he was made the patron saint of all Spanish lawyers. In 1982 (after Franco), this was made optional, but some cities, including Barcelona, still have him as the patron saint of their lawyers.

I am out of my depth in all these details of medieval history, but this book throws light on the social-intellectual-religious history of the Franco period. I would greatly appreciate any information and comments about the author and the saint.

Ronald Hilton - 7/28/02


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