Project Canterbury

Church Reform in Spain and Portugal

A Short History of the Reformed Episcopal Churches of Spain and Portugal, from 1868 to the Present Time.

By H. E. Noyes.

London, Paris, Melbourne: Cassell and Company, 1897.

Chapter II. Villaescusa.

AT this village the Reformed Spanish Church has a strong station, and as the story of the rise and progress of the work there is especially interesting, I am giving it at more length than space allows me to do in other cases.

Villaescusa is a town of about 300 families, situated in the province of Zamora, between the converging lines of the angle formed by the railways from Medina del Campo to Zamora and Salamanca respectively. All roads to the village are bad. During summer, when the ground is dry, one may ride in a vehicle strongly put together, but after the autumn rains commence, the saturated clayey soil soon clogs, and the journey can only be made on foot or on horseback. The camps around are destitute of trees, but the soil is fertile, and, despite very primitive methods of agriculture, yields plentiful crops of wheat, and of garbanzos and other vegetables.

The appearance of Villaescusa closely resembles that of many small towns found in old Castile, but the English traveller coming direct from the Northern Railway for the first time would probably be much surprised. The streets are narrow and rough, the pedestrian having to carefully pick his way to avoid stumbling. The houses of one floor are generally built of adobe--that is, of mud bricks mixed with straw, which have been dried [17/18] in the sun. The narrow doors are so low that one has to bow his head to enter. There is no inn, nor is there a shop in the place, not even a butcher's or chemist's. Every householder is a small landowner; he lives in his own dwelling, works his own fields, makes his own wine, bakes his own bread, and has his own pigs and fowls. Extras are supplied from the town of Fuentesauco once a week. The parish church is a miserable, unsightly edifice. The chief personages of the town are the priest, the alcalde, doctor, schoolmaster and schoolmistress. The people are descended from the ancient Goths, and from time immemorial have led an almost patriarchal existence, altogether undisturbed by the questions which have wrought such changes in the world outside them. There is not much that would attract the mere traveller to Villaescusa, but to one interested in the spread of the Everlasting Gospel, there is that to see and hear which would more than compensate for the toils of the journey. Here is a little congregation of Christians, who have thrown off the errors of the Church of Rome, and who flourish as an oasis amid the vast dry plains of Leon and Castile. The following story will be found full of interest to all who sympathise with those who are struggling out of darkness into light.

It is well known that for many years our great Bible and Tract Societies have been engaged in the distribution of the Holy Scriptures and tracts in Spain. To their work the beginnings of this movement are due. A young carpenter of Villaescusa, named Melquiades, in one of his visits to Fuentesauco, purchased a portion of the Bible. He was induced to do so more on account of its low price than anything else, for beyond the name he knew very little about it. On returning home [18/19] he made no mention of his bargain--not for any particular reason--but now and then he would devote a portion of his time to its perusal. To his surprise, he found a detailed account of certain events in the life of Christ with which he was already imperfectly acquainted, and of others which were altogether new. After a while he showed the book to his sister, read to her several portions which afforded great delight, and from that time they daily read the Word of God together. The young man regularly attended church when sermons were preached, carefully noted texts referred to by the priest, and on returning home he diligently studied the texts cited. By and by he had another object in view. He wished to compare the doctrines taught in the pulpit with those plainly set forth in the Book. This gradual but sure progress in knowledge confirmed some points of his belief, taught him matters of faith of which he had no previous conception, and opened up new views regarding the love, mercy, and grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus. At the same time it weakened his hold of certain doctrines he had learned in childhood, but of which he could find no mention in the inspired volume.

Whether he or his sister made the greater advancement in Biblical study it is difficult to say, though each says the other had the advantage. Filled with joy at what they had read and learned, Melquiades and his sister began to tell their neighbours of the treasure they had found. The priest, hearing of this, called upon them and asked to see the book. After turning over the leaves he said, "This is not the real Bible. It is published by heretics, and worth little, though you obtained it for next to nothing. You must give it up to [19/20] me. I positively forbid your reading it because of the risk you run of becoming a Protestant. Besides, our holy Mother Church forbids the reading of it." Upon hearing these and similar remarks, Melquiades replied, "The book cost me money. It is mine and I shall keep it. What I have read does not displease me. It has, the rather, taught me to be a better Christian. The texts I have heard you repeat in your sermons are here. Surely I may as well read them at home as hear them read from the pulpit. I do not know what you mean by being a heretic and a Protestant. This I know: that now I believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God with more understanding and in a different and better way than I used to do; and as I owe all this to the study of the book, I shall not cease to continue reading it." Failing in the object of his visit, the priest withdrew.

The young man and his sister continued to read the book, and to discuss it with friends, though the latter responded with a measure of fear owing to the Cure's language. Sometime afterwards two friars sent by the Bishop of Zamora came to Villaescusa to preach a series of sermons upon the customary points of faith and morals. Melquiades listened attentively to every discourse, and on returning home compared the texts and doctrines he had heard with the words of his Bible. One day he was somewhat concerned to receive a notice to the effect that one of these preachers desired an interview with him. He did not hesitate, however, but taking up his Bible, went to the house where the friars were lodging.

It would occupy too much space to narrate all that transpired, but the closing words of the ecclesiastic were--"You may keep the book and read it if you [20/21] choose. You appear to be well instructed in these matters. Have faith, know what you read, and you will receive no harm. All I ask is--do not read the book to anyone else."

On his way home the carpenter thought, "So I may keep the Bible, but I must not read it to anyone else! Shall I who once was so ignorant, but am now through God's mercy enlightened, keep this knowledge to myself, and allow my fellow-townsmen to perish in darkness? Ah! What they want is that we should have the blind faith they speak so much of in their sermons."

His sister welcomed him home, and in answer to inquiries was told how the ecclesiastic had menaced him with excommunication first, and condemnation afterwards; how they entered into controversy, and the arguments adduced by his opponent, based upon the infallibility of the Church and its indisputable authority; and how, when finally hemmed in by words of Scripture, the friar had given the consent as already stated.

From that time the brother and sister began to study Holy Scripture more earnestly than ever, and with earnest prayer for heavenly wisdom. They spoke to their neighbours and friends; the people visited their house and looked forward to the Bible readings with gladness. As in all small places, nothing can remain long a secret, and when the friar's injunction leaked out, the Curé was greatly angered.

The priest was alarmed at the progress of the movement, and in the pulpit solemnly declared his intention to ask the Pope to excommunicate any and all of his flock who should from this time meet to hear the Bible read, or anyone who should himself read it. The Cure's manner had the desired effect. Most who had [21/22] visited the "Bible-house" kept away. Some, however, wishing to show their contempt for the priest's threats, and others animated with a sincere desire to know the truth, continued to attend.

It was a time of sadness, for the position was critical. What could such a few do when menaced by a priest who had such power over the bulk of their townsmen? They knew nothing of sufferings endured for the Gospel's sake in other lands, nor of the glorious roll of Spanish martyrs who had laid down their lives rather than deny the Lord who bought them.

But they knew what Christ had endured for their sakes. They knew that He had laid down His life for them, and that it is enough for the disciple that "he be as his Lord." A deep sense of natural sinfulness and weakness kept them humble, yet they rejoiced in Christ Jesus and bore good fruit to the praise of His name, praying meanwhile that their enemies might be led to know Him and the power of His grace. "It is no use inviting our townspeople to come to the readings," the young man remarked to his friends: "so long as a man's conscience is in the hands of a fellow-sinner he will remain in slavery. If we cannot bring the truth to their ears, let its effect be seen in our lives. Let us strive to live to the glory of God. Let us abstain from the lusts of the flesh, the world, and the devil, and seek by God's grace to overcome those sins which often waylay us to our fall, that men may take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus." This godly counsel met with approval. The Lord's day was better observed. Each sought to amend his life according to the teaching of the Word, and God owned and blessed the effort.

[23] They had to suffer many petty persecutions; the shafts of satire were often directed against them. But their forbearance was more potent than the arms of their enemies, and they remembered the words, "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart."

The leaders of the faithful few procured a number of Bibles from a distance and some tracts, and thus, without any outside help, a congregation was formed. In course of time a passing colporteur visited the town, and subsequently an evangelist, and gave them much encouragement. But for a long time they were without a Pastor, without the administration of sacraments, and without knowledge of or fellowship with any of the congregations existing in Spain. The congregation at Villaescusa was not formed by any Pastor or evangelist sent by any society. The work spontaneously originated through the reading of the Word of God. Indeed, I may say here, that both in Spain and Portugal the work has been mainly the same in its origin, and it is a fact which should do much to strengthen our faith in the efficacy of the Word of God when carried home to the heart by the Holy Ghost, even where there is no preacher.

When the brethren at Villaescusa learned that a congregation of reformers had been formed at Salamanca, they sent a commission inviting the Pastor to visit them. The Rev. Señor Rodrigo acceded to their request, saw the wondrous work of God among them, preached the Word, and in accordance with the wishes of all, undertook the spiritual oversight of the congregation. In May, 1880, a room was hired as a capilla (chapel).

The services, which until flow had been almost of [23/24] a private character, were made public, and the Rev. Señor Rodrigo attended periodically for the administration of the Sacraments. In the absence of the Pastor, Melquiades, who in all respects was the Father of the Church, conducted the services.

When the congregation of Salamanca petitioned to join the Spanish Church, another petition was presented from Villaescusa, signed by forty-one communicants and twenty-nine others.

Both were favourably received by the Synod, and when Señor Rodrigo was removed to the care of the Church at Malaga, Señor Garcia was appointed to take charge of the congregations of Salamanca and Villaescusa.


IN the month of May, 1881, the Rev. J. B. Cabrera, Bishop-elect, paid his first visit to this congregation, accompanied by Revs. Garcia and Rodrigo. I cannot do better than give the account of his interesting visit in his own words. He writes, "We started at to a.m., and at an inn outside the city walls (Salamanca) found a cart ready for us. The vehicle was very strongly built, without seats or an awning, but a thick mattress had been stretched, so that we might sit down and be better able to endure the jolting where the track was rough. Not a cloud flecked the sky; the sun shone in his strength, and our only shade was from our hats. For an hour we really had a dreadful shaking. The mules evidently wanted to get over the ground as quickly as possible. We held on to each other and clung to the upright staves on either side, but for all that the violent jerking and jolting almost threatened to break our bones. At [24/25] eleven we rested under a few trees by the banks of a stream. The shade was grateful, and drawing out the treasures of our alforjas, we took breakfast. I do not think I ever enjoyed a meal more in my life. When we resumed our journey the heat was tremendous, not only from the sun direct, but from the oven-like radiation of the ground. Thus we plodded on till the evening, our mouths parched with thirst and dry with dust; and our limbs thoroughly tired. The poor mules seemed) quite worn out too, and scarcely able to drag along, and even our guides were not exempt from suffering. But the abstemious, hardy peasants of Leon and Castile have astonishing recuperative powers, and a few hours' rest enables them to rise refreshed and fit to. undertake another journey. We were. cheered by hearing that some scarcely distinguishable forms on a distant undulation of the ground were probably brethren who had come to meet us, and in a few minutes we were cordially embraced by friends. For the time all our fatigues were forgotten. 'I have been the Saul of this Church,' said one. 'I was one of a party that went out to kill our Pastor; but God led him another way. I sincerely trust my grievous sin has been forgiven. May I be another Paul in newness and holiness of life and fidelity to Jesus!' I had some special words of comfort for this man. 'Señor Obispo,' said another, 'the Protestants say that the excommunications have arrived from Rome, and that the Curé will read them in the synagogue next Sunday.' I did not understand the allusion at the time, but at Villaescusa it was explained to me that by the 'synagogue' was meant the parish church; for the Romanists having called the brethren Protestants and heretics, the latter had retorted in their own coin. The [25/26] language is local and conventional, but it is not void of popular philosophy. Shortly afterwards we were met by a more numerous group, composed of old men, women, and children who had come out to welcome us. The conversation now became general, and the noise and animation of all characterised the delight of our escort. On arriving at the town we were conducted to the capilla, and after many hand-shakings the multitude dispersed. It was then six o'clock. Two of the brethren invited us to their dwellings. At nine o'clock, the hour when the agriculturists who come in from their labours have supped, we went to the capilla. On our way we overtook numerous women, each carrying a stool, and some with children in arms or leading others by the hand.

"In reply to inquiries I was told that these sisters were all going to the service, and that as there were no seats in the room, each carried a stool. Nearing the capilla, and hearing the voices of children singing, my host informed me that, having no bell, the older children entered the room directly the door was opened and sang until the service commenced.

"The capilla is an adobe hut roofed with tile. The floor is composed of earth, and the windows have no glass. The pulpit is made of bricks covered with paper. The room will accommodate about sixty persons comfortably seated, but nearer 200 often manage to squeeze in. On such occasions the women stand with their stools poised upon the head, there being no other place for them, and for a couple of hours they remain apparently unconscious of their burden. The night I was there the room was crammed to suffocation, and the heat and inconvenience experienced by all severe; but [26/27] when I looked at the mass of expectant upturned faces, I forgot all the fatigues of the day, the wretchedness of the place, and could only marvel at the gracious doings of the Lord.

"The devotional portion of the service ended, Señors Garcia and Rodrigo each spoke a few words, and then I gave an address by way of preparing the congregation for the administration of the Holy Communion on the following day. It was past eleven when we separated, and then a group of brethren accompanied us home, and remained till midnight, when I begged of them to retire to rest. Next day I inquired into the condition of the church, revised the Baptismal Register and other books, and engaged in other duties proper to my office. The Church is strict in discipline, no one being admitted into membership until after months, or it may be years, of probation; and even then a second period is required before admission is given to Holy Communion. This explains the circumstance' of a Church numbering 200 members having only fifty communicants. The solidity of the work, however, commends the strictness of the brethren. The service of the Tuesday evening was equally well attended, and at the administration of the Lord's Supper every member was present save one who was sick. Wednesday was spent in receiving and returning visits, and taking a walk outside the town as far as the cemetery, which is the property of the congregation. In the evening we had a gathering of the Church to treat of matters connected with the future and to bid farewell to the congregation. My visit to Villaescusa has afforded me the greatest satisfaction. It was only when I had seen the work of God in this little town that I could fully enter into the [27/28] exclamation of Señor Rodrigo: 'All the fatigues of the journey are no more remembered in the joy of beholding this evidence of God's saving grace. Blessed be the Lord for the stormy day of snow and wind when the brethren first came for me to go to Villaescusa!'

"I now wish" (writes Señor Cabrera) "to say a few words regarding the future prospects of the Church and some of the wants which we should try to meet. The future of the congregation, of course, depends upon its fidelity to the Word of a Covenant-keeping God. At the present moment the Reformers form the greater part of the inhabitants. The Bible is everywhere read, and our hymns may be heard sung in the street, in the house, and in the fields by persons who are not actually members of the congregation. Our brethren form part of the Ayuntamiento, or municipality, and the day is at hand when they will constitute the majority, if not the totality, of this body. Of the three wealthier people in the town, one is a friend of the Curé, and the other two are friends of the Reformation; they are not yet enrolled among the members of the Church, but they attend the services, and one of them presented the congregation with the ground used as a cemetery. If the same constancy and progress in faith and Christian life be continued by the members of this congregation, Villaescusa will soon be the first town in the Peninsula which has wholly embraced the Reformation. The influence which such a fact would have upon the surrounding towns would be very great, especially when we remember that small groups of Reformers exist in every one of them. But I think we ought to make a special effort to bring about so desirable an event. There are difficulties we may help to overcome. It will be [28/29] understood that where so many belong to the Church, there are children to be educated. At present the Government schools are in the hands of the Curé. What we want, then, is a godly married man to do the work of an evangelist, and undertake the education of the boys, while his wife would devote herself to teaching the girls. This would be a great boon. The duties of the Pastor at Salamanca are almost too much for him; and, indeed, during certain seasons of the year, they cannot possibly be fulfilled with due regularity owing to the severity of the weather. Relieved of the oversight of the Church at Villaescusa, he could visit nearer towns and villages, and thus comply with the reiterated request of many who desire to hear what the Gospel of the grace of God really is."

The Bishop-elect concludes the report of this visit by an earnest appeal for a church building in which to hold the services. It must not be supposed that a work of this kind could go on without opposition and even open persecution in a country like Spain. Very soon afterwards we read that an outrage was committed upon one of the Reformers who had accompanied Pastor Garcia part of the way home after one of his visits. On his way back and when not very far from his house he was startled by a loud report and the whiz of a bullet as it sped past him. Alive to the danger, he clapped spurs to his horse, and hastened onwards as fast as possible, three other shots being fired after him; but, thanks be to God, he reached home safely. Here he found his wife and family in a state of terror and fear, for during his absence no less than six shots had been fired through the windows, the walls opposite being riddled with bullets. The report of the outrage [29/30] appeared in El Globo, a Madrid paper, and fifteen persons were arrested. But Rev. A. Garcia was also attacked, though in a different way. The Curé of Villaescusa, finding his people going away from him, decided to leave the parish. He announced this decision from the pulpit, and said that "before leaving Villacscusa he hoped to deal a death-blow to the Protestants." In the parish church there is an image called the Virgen del Olmo. In times gone by this image was highly venerated by the people, and, indeed, is at present by the devotees of the town and neighbourhood. Early in April, 1883, this object of worship was found to have lost its arms! Of course, there was a terrible outcry, and no time was lost in giving notice to the authorities, with the suggestion that the sacrilegious criminals must be Protestants. Acting upon this information, the houses of several Protestants were searched, when the sacristan denounced a Protestant neighbour on the grounds of having overheard a child in his house, about eleven years of age, admire the arms of a baby she was nursing! Without more ado the judge of Fuentesauco issued a warrant for his apprehension and imprisonment, and at noon the poor man was seized by civil guards, handcuffed and fettered, and conducted through the middle of the town at an hour when many of the country people were assembled, who, instigated by others, cried "Burn him! Assassinate him! Crucify him!" At Fuentesauco he met with a similar frantic reception, and it was only when lodged in gaol that he felt safe from the menacing attitude of the infuriated crowd. The prisoner was placed in solitary confinement for eight days, and probably would have suffered a longer period but for the fact of Pastor Garcia's [30/31] appearance at Fuentesauco, who demanded the immediate cessation of this form of punishment, which under any circumstances can only be inflicted for seventy-two hours according to the law. The child referred to, a niece of the prisoner, was summoned to declare that the arms of which she was heard to speak were those belonging to the mutilated image. On denying the accusation, threats were employed to force her to confess according to the wishes of the prosecutors, and she was informed that in case of obstinacy she would be thrown into a dark and filthy dungeon, where terrible sufferings would end her days. Notwithstanding her terror, the child was sufficiently calm and firm to persist in her first statement--viz. that the words she used simply referred to the baby's arms. On Señor Garcia's return to Villaescusa he was met by two civil guards, who very rudely demanded his passport. Finding the document in form, they implied it must be a forgery; "for who," said they, "ever heard of a minister of religion wearing a beard!" The guards then censured Señor Garcia for having separated from the Church of Rome, and used many offensive expressions regarding the congregation at Villaescusa. Eventually it leaked out that the authorities in their inquiries for the authors of the theft were known to have carefully searched the house of an ex-sacristan of the church, going so far as to dig up the yard adjoining his premises--but much secrecy was observed. On Sunday, April 22nd, the blessing of a new pair of wooden arms was made the occasion of a great festival. Bands from the surrounding districts marched in procession, with crowds of strangers, who had been attracted by an exceptionally full programme of amusements. The usual scenes of frenzied fanaticism [31/32] and wild revelry were carried on to a late hour. What was to be feared eventually occurred. In a paroxysm of bigotry some persons shouted "Death to the Protestants! Knife them! knife them!" and for a time there was no little danger of the threats being carried out; for it must be remembered that the town was filled with thousands of excited people, and that the authorities exhibited no disposition to shield the innocent or maintain the rights of the Reformers. However, thank God, there was no actual violence. Throughout the festival all the brethren kept within doors, so as to avoid the slightest pretext for an onslaught. But the civil guards (generally a very respectable class) and the inhabitants of the surrounding towns and villages continued to insult and persecute the Reformers. A correspondent at the time wrote, "The brethren need the utmost patience and prudence to avoid a serious disaster. If they speak they are denounced; when attacked they dare not defend themselves; and though continually insulted, they must remain silent. Our enemies know that practically there is no one to whom we can appeal, while their own word is everything with men whose position ought to guarantee impartiality."

But notwithstanding all these difficulties the work went on; our numbers increased until it was impossible to accommodate those who came to the services. But good news was at hand. An English lady, Mrs. Forbes, widow of the late Rev. E. Forbes, chaplain for many years at the Embassy Church in Paris, had read the accounts of the rise and progress of the movement in this village and determined to help. She communicated her desire to the Most Rev. Lord Plunket, who had [32/33] himself visited Villaescusa and was satisfied of the reality of the work; and his Grace wrote a letter which could be used by her in making the appeal. Mrs. Forbes determined to try and raise sufficient funds to build a church, and eventually succeeded in doing so. It was a noble act, and may well stimulate others to do likewise. The report that a church was to be built in the town caused considerable excitement both among friends and foes. Towards the end of the year '884 Pastor Garcia was arrested on a false charge of having neglected to obtain permission for the burial of a child, and put in prison. The full details of all that happened would occupy too much space; suffice it to say that the pressure brought to bear upon the authorities by Señor Cabrera in Madrid soon secured his release, and not only so, but also a reprimand for the judge who had unjustly condemned him. It seems that the whole affair was got up as a protest against the new church. The Judge said to Pastor Garcia on this occasion, "Let me give you this warning: I want to extirpate heresy out of my district; I will not consent to the building of the church in Villaescusa, and I will endeavour to put away all Protestants from the town." But "the more they were afflicted the more they grew," and ere long the day dawned for the laying of the foundation of the new church. This took place on September 15th, 1885. The Bishop-elect had taken the warmest interest in all matters connected with it, and went down for the occasion. After inspecting the site a spot was chosen where a box could be placed containing a bottle enclosing a parchment document which was as follows--"Villaescusa, in the province of Zamora, the ancient Kingdom of Leon, on the 15th day in the month [33/34] of September, 1885, Don Alfonso XII. being King of Spain, and Don Francisco Martin del Cano the constitutional Alcalde of this town, We, Don Juan Bautista Cabrera, first Bishop-elect of the Reformed Spanish Church, in the presence of the Minister of the congregation in this town, Don Antonio Garcia Illana, of the Minister of the Church at Salamanca, Don Leon Moulet of Climent, of the authorities of the town, and of a numerous public, have laid the first stone of this edifice destined as a church under the invocation of the Holy Ghost, to the honour and glory of God the Father Almighty, and of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. The building fund is provided by the members of this Church, specially aided by our brethen of the British Empire. All of which we record for future testimony. I Tim. iii. 16." Here follow the signatures of the Bishopelect, the Pastors present, and various members of the Church at Villaescusa. Bishop Cabrera thus describes the laying of the stone: "Amid profound silence, and while every head was uncovered, I invoked the name of the most Holy Trinity, and lifted up to the Lord a prayer of thanksgiving in that He had granted to us the privilege of beginning the work of a material church after so many years of labour in the building up of a living and spiritual Church. Señor Moulet then read aloud the document mentioned which was to be placed in the box.

"I then deposited the box in its proper place, and with a new trowel, presented to me by the master of the works, spread the cement, and, assisted by Señors Garcia and Moulet, covered the box with the stone.

"We then read the twentieth canticle in our prayerbook (I Chron. xxix. 10-18), and I gave a short address [34/35] to those assembled. I also prayed that the Lord might bless the workmen engaged in the construction of the building, and all those who had assisted us with their gifts, not forgetting the name of that excellent Christian lady, Mrs. Forbes, who had shown such zeal in the collection of funds for this work; and then pronouncing the benediction, I dismissed the assembly."

This simple ceremony made a great. impression on all who attended. It was the first of the kind they had ever taken part in. Rough field labourers wiped away the tear, and mothers lifted up their children to see, in the hope they would never forget, the spectacle. One aged man of ninety, leaning upon his staff, said: "Señor Obispo, let me have the pleasure of placing with my own hand one little stone on the foundation--for this will be a great comfort to me should the Lord call me before the building is finished." One woman said weeping: "How my father would have rejoiced to see this day! A year since he passed away, and with his dying breath expressed the hope that the congregation would increase, and that a church might be built." The members of the Church gave either money, materials, or personal labour. A bricklayer receiving his first week's wages gave back ten reales, saying, "Take this as the first-fruits which I offer to Jesus, that He may have among us a material house." Another said: "I will take no wages for the first week; let it go towards the church." Some brought timber, others lent their carts to bring sand, and a poor gleaner sold her ears of corn, and brought eight reales as her offering.

Thus the work grew apace; at length the roof was put on, and all was ready for the opening on November 1st, 1890.

[36] The officiating clergyman was the Pastor Rev. Antonio Garcia. The congregation, which included the Alcalde and the whole of the Town Council, numbered about 400. Almost a hundred more had to content themselves with looking in at the windows. The crush was great. Señor Garcia took his text, from I Peter ii. 5, "A spiritual house."

It seemed as if there was a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and there was scarcely a dry eye. Eighty-eight partook of the Holy Communion.

This was Saturday; the next day, November znd, long before the hour of service, people were seen flocking in from the neighbourhood, some on foot, others on horses and mules. Rev. A. Garcia again preached, taking his text from Zech. viii. 23, "We shall go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

Again there was an overflowing congregation, numbers remaining outside.

After the service the people pressed forward to shake hands with the Pastor, and many were the expressions of sympathy and encouragement. The child of Señor Garcia was baptised at the morning service. At evening service the crowd was equally great, and there were both pleasure and surprise at finding the church so well lighted.

And here we must take our leave of the congregation and church at Villaescusa. Changes have taken place. Some of the old members have died; many others have joined. Rev. A. Garcia has been removed to Madrid as curate to the Bishop, but his name and work still live in this little northern town. The Rev. Don Daniel Regaliza is now the Pastor, an earnest, godly young man. The writer will not soon forget the earnest [36/37] sermons he heard him preach to his congregation in Villaescusa on more than one occasion. One hopes that some day he may have a larger sphere, for he is very eloquent as a preacher. Some time since he married the daughter of Don Francisco Martin, formerly Alcalde of the town. The record since the opening of the church is of steady work both in the town and neighbourhood, and we look forward to even "greater things than these" as the Gospel of Christ spreads among the people.

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