A Short History of the Reformed Episcopal Churches of Spain and Portugal, from 1868 to the Present Time.
HAVING now put on record the doings of the Episcopal Reformers of Spain and Portugal in their more central stations, I cannot conclude without referring briefly to the work--of less magnitude, perhaps, but not of less interest--which they are carrying on in other quarters of the Peninsula at the present time.
OSUNA (Spain).--The congregation in this town affords an illustration of how the Reform work has spread by the migration of members from one city to another. Previous to 1889 a few members of the congregation of San Basilio, in Seville, went to live at Osuna, fourteen leagues distant, and one of the most ancient towns in Spain. They remained faithful to the teaching they had received, and often spoke of the Reformed Church and its hopes.
A converted Jew, named Marcos Bothel, also educated in Seville, frequently circulated tracts, but no meetings were held. At length a desire to meet together sprung up, and Señor M. Bothel was approached on the subject. He consented, and at the first gathering eighty persons were present to hear the Word of God read. Two women who had come to reside in Osuna were specially active in bringing about this result. Ultimately Señor Palomares was invited to visit the town. This took place at the close of 1889.
Mr. Caldwell, the United States consul at Seville, [160/161] accompanied Palomares and they found the ground well prepared. Visits were paid to several families known to be in sympathy, and a meeting was arranged for the evening. About thirty persons came, and the pastor found to his surprise a Bible, liturgy, and hymn-book laid upon the table. The attention to the service and sermon was most marked, and all felt that blessing had been received. The next day Señor Palomares, who is also a doctor, was called to visit one of the congregation who was sick and unable to attend the service, who gratefully received both the spiritual and medical aid.
The most diligent worker in Osuna is Doña Juana Lobos (one of the women already referred to), who was brought up in Seville, and learned the truth at San Basilio. She has been most active in Bible and tract distribution, and in inviting others to the meetings. On this account she has received a great deal of persecution, but undismayed, she still carries on her work. One day the wife of the Alcalde and another lady called upon her urging her to go to confession. She replied, "This I frequently do, and confess all my sins to One Who has power to forgive them." She then opened her Bible and pointed to the passages which warranted her position. The neighbours, wondering at the visit of the ladies, had gathered in and listened attentively to the conversation. Her visitors accepted several tracts.
Palomares has since paid frequent visits to Osuna, and has met with ever-increasing success. He goes with a packet of Bible portions and tracts, and has has been admitted to the prison and other institutions with them. A building has been hired, and weekly gatherings arranged for Bible reading, prayer, and praise. The usual form of persecution has been tried, and many [161/162] have lost their situations on account of their being members of the Reformed Church.
The regular congregation has now reached over fifty persons, who are earnestly desirous of having a settled pastor in their midst. A generous friend in England has offered to supply the fund necessary for a pastor's stipend for a period of three years. We expect to hear soon that this congregation has been received by the Synod as an organised body in connection with the Reformed Church.
VALLADOLID (Spain).--This city, where an interesting work is being carried on under the care of the Rev. Emilio Martinez, was formerly one of the most famous cities of Spain. Here Philip II. was born, and here the great discoverer Christopher Columbus died. I shall not soon forget standing in the lowly chamber where this truly great man breathed his last. Here Ferdinand and Isabella were married in 1469. Valladolid was the residence of the kings of Castile, and the seat of the Court until Philip II. made Madrid the capital. For these and many other reasons the visitor to Spain should not pass it by. It was here that Dr. Augustus Cazalla, the first Reformed Spanish pastor, was strangled, and afterwards burnt to ashes in the fires of the Inquisition. It was, indeed, the scene of many martyrdoms, and the present little church has adopted the name Iglesia dc los Martires--the Church of the Martyrs.
It was at the close of the year 1885 that the Rev. Pedro do Castro, commissioned by Señor Cabrera, went to visit different groups of Reformers in the north of Spain. At Valladolid he found a group of Christians under the direction of a junta, or vestry, who met together periodically to pray, sing hymns, and read the [162/163] holy Scriptures. They were maintaining at their own charges a small room capable of holding about fifty persons. It was poorly furnished, but a spot very dear to those who gathered together for worship. They had no pastor, and were without the sacraments, although earnestly desiring them. Señor Castro communicated with the Bishop-elect, and upon his advice put them in communication with Madrid, and they were eventually accepted as a congregation of the Reformed Spanish Church. At the beginning of the following year the Bishop-elect, accompanied by the Rev. S. Cruellas, visited the city, and services and Bible classes were held which were much enjoyed. Thirty-one partook of the Holy Communion. The hopes of the congregation were raised that ere long a regularly appointed pastor might be sent to labour amongst them.
Two years subsequently, Mr. S. B. Caldwell, American Consul at Seville, paid a visit, and wrote of the devotion and growth of the congregation. At length a pastor was found in the Rev E. Martinez. His conversion was due to the granting of religious liberty in 1863. He then for the first time heard the pure Gospel in Madrid, and was filled with a desire to make it known to his countrymen. As a preliminary step, he took up the work of a colporteur, and subsequently studied theology under Dr. Napp. His first work as a lay minister was at Monistrol, near Barcelona, for which he was ordained by the Archbishop of Dublin. He was removed to Valladolid in 1890. In 1893 a visit was paid by Lord Plunket, in company with the Bishop of Clogher and Canon Meyrick. A confirmation service was held, when over 120 people were present. Canon Meyrick writes of this visit, "It was a relief after [163/164] visiting Roman Churches (which, for aught visible to the contrary, might have been Pagan temples) to enter the chapel of this congregation, and to see above the pulpit this text, 'God is love,' and on the walls, 'Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,' etc. . . . Their liturgy is exceedingly beautiful, and at once appeals to the nation's heart, as it embodies in a large measure the old Mozarabic liturgy, which was in use among the early Christians of Spain, and goes back almost to Apostolic times." Thirteen young persons were confirmed on this occasion, and an address given by the Archbishop interpreted by Señor Cabrera. Canon Mcyrick adds to his interesting report of the visit, "We left Valladolid impressed with a sense of the reality and importance of the Spanish reform work there going on."
The Rev. P. Martinez is an earnest worker and a diligent student. Articles from his pen are frequently found in La Luz, the organ of the Spanish Reformed Church. He much desires a better church and schools, but it is not easy to procure the funds.
SETUBAL (Portugal).--The mission in this townwhich claims to be the third largest town in Portugalforms one of our most hopeful stations, and will, we hope, ere long be fully organised under a resident pastor. The work here dates from 1883. A member of the congregation of San Pedro, Lisbon, had left that city with his wife to reside in Setubal, and this year she died. Her husband telegraphed to the Rev. Señor Candido asking him to go there for the funeral. It was the first Protestant funeral ever seen in the town, and attracted great attention. From the house to the cemetery the people formed two dense lines along both sides of the [164/165] streets, and the cemetery was full. With one exception the crowd reverently listened to the burial service. A would-be disturber cried out, "The Protestants are heretics, and ought to be burnt!" But no one took notice of him.
At funerals in Portugal the Roman priests generally accompany the coffin to the cemetery robed. Señor Candido thought it right to follow the custom thus far, and attended in surplice and stole. The husband was much respected. He always kept the Sunday, refusing to undertake any business, and tried in every way to spread a purer Gospel among the people. Many sympathised with him in his work, and at length Señor Carvalho, am excellent man, began to hold meetings. But the people in sympathy with the Lusitanian Church became very anxious to have liturgical services, and in the autumn of 1893 it was decided to commence definite work in the town. A small house was rented, and a school-mistress appointed. The Lisbon clergy undertook to hold services on each alternate Sunday evening, and these have been continued, with a steadily increasing attendance. A Sunday morning service was mucli desired, but at present this is impossible, as the clergy are fully occupied on that day. Naturally there has been opposition, and pressure was brought to bear upon the owners of some factories in the place to refuse employment to any who sent their children to the schools, to which, alas! they yielded; and attendance fell off for a time. There was also persecution of a more violent type, and the mistress and some children were stoned in the streets. Señor Candido, who on one occasion witnessed this, threatened to appeal to the police, and the warning had a good effect. The [165/166] congregation is enthusiastic, and full of missionary zeal; as an instance of this I may mention that a young man succeeded in selling 250 copies of the Evangelista, the paper of the Reformed Church, in a very short time, and obtained a good many new subscribers. As an evidence of the goodwill of the people towards the Reformers, the following is an interesting fact. Last winter a Portuguese family took a large house next door to the mission. They frequently had dances, and the noise was often very disturbing during service. In a short time some of the family dropped in to hear, and by degrees came more frequently. Now there is no music or dancing during service hours. On the occasion of the carnival, when a service had been arranged, there was to have been a ball, but before the service the people of the house, with their guests, all went out, and strolled about the town until service was over, and then returned to conclude the ball. The work seems so hopeful in Setubal that it is at present under consideration whether the congregation shall be formally admitted to the Lusitanian Church, with vestry and treasurer of its own, and a representative in the Synod.
MONISTROL AND SAN VICENTE (Spain).--On the morning of May 22nd, 1870, two men and a youth might have been seen setting up a tent and unpacking a couple of large cases in the great square of the town of Manresa--a large town not far from Monistrol. The cases contained Bibles, which were about to be offered to the people. While the books were being dusted and set in order the colporteurs handed copies to the bystanders for examinations. "The Bible!" "The holy Gospels!" exclaimed one and another in [166/167] astonishment. In a short time many copies were sold. But by and by several shouted, "You have deceived us, false thieves!" And throwing their books into a heap, the flames of a bonfire leaped into the air. Distressed, the colporteurs called out, "Return the books and take back your money! We have given you the holy Scriptures." "It is false!" was the response; "our priests say so." It was a striking scene. Over 2,000 people gathered, and cries were heard, "Death to the Protestants!" Someone set fire to the tent, and but for the timely arrival of the Alcalde (Mayor), the three colporteurs would have hardly escaped with their lives.
From this scene of excitement we may date the commencement of the work in Monistrol. The two colporteurs had made their way to that town, and were on the bridge that spans its river when they were startled by the approach of a stalwart man, who said, "How now, comrades, have you recovered from your fright at Manresa?" and invited them to supper. They thought it wiser to refuse, not quite sure if he were a friend or no. On the morrow they commenced work again, and met with more success. The persecution had aroused inquiry, and they sold their whole stock of books that day. They subsequently discovered that the man who had spoken to them upon the bridge was a Señor Manuel Estruc, of Monistrol, who was himself an inquirer, though as yet knowing little of the saving truth of the Gospel. His story is deeply interesting, and illustrative of others who have for conscientious reasons left the Church of Rome. As a boy he was an acolyte in the parish church. He venerated everything about the church, and looked upon the images with a superstitious awe. One of these had become old and worm-eaten. [167/168] One day the Cura said to him, "When you come to-morrow bring a hatchet and cut up this image for firewood." He was filled with horror, and this incident set him thinking, and led him eventually to leave the Roman Church. He would have become an infidel but that he had met the colporteurs, and found in their teaching what his soul yearned for. He invited the colportcurs to remain, and opened his house for meetings, which were largely attended. This went on for some time, until at length one of the colporteurs, Señor E. Martinez, was appointed as the minister of the congregation. The son of Señor Estruc, who had been confirmed by Lord Plunket at Monistrol, desired to enter the ministry, and after some years' training--latterly in Madrid, under Bishop Cabrera--has been ordained, and has gone back to his native parish to help the present clergyman (the Rev. J. J. Riall) in his work. At the beginning of the year 1885 there were lot registered Church members, fifty of whom are. communicants. The Church has been visited several times by Bishop Cabrera, and has been formally admitted as a part of the Reformed Spanish Church.
The position of this Church is interesting, and gives opportunity for mission work of a peculiar kind. Monistrol lies at the foot of a well-known mountain of Montserrat. Upon the summit of this mountain there is a famous monastery about 3,300 feet above the level of the sea. It is said that in early times heathen worship was practised upon its summit, and that a temple was erected to Venus in A.D. 197. However that may be, it is at present the centre for an idolatrous worship of a certain black image called the Virgin of Montserrat. The image represents a female figure [168/169] seated, holding a ball in her right hand, and a child on her lap, the latter with its right hand upraised and a pine in its left. Many pilgrimages are made to the image every year, and grim stories are told of the orgies carried on. The little catilla of Monistrol is at the foot of the mountain, on the road which the pilgrims pass; and often they turn in to listen to the service, and carry away tracts which are freely given. It is hard to estimate the amount of good done in this way.
San Vicente de Castellet is a small town half-way between Monistrol and Manresa, of about 400 families. A work was commenced here by a man who had heard and received the Gospel in Manresa. He offered his house to the colportcur, and meetings were held. In 1878 the work was connected with that of Monistrol, and Senior Martinez took charge of it. The congregation petitioned the Synod at the same time as the church at Monistrol, and was received as a part of the Reformed Church. The congregation numbered twentyfive and the scholars thirty-two. The Rev. D. Regaliza, the valued pastor at Villaescusa, worked here for some time. Persecution, of late years, and the discharging of the Reformers from employment has reduced the numbers. A like cause has injured to some extent the work at Monistrol. In 1885 there was a visitation of cholera and much distress, but none of the Reformers died, a fact which caused a good deal of comment. At the end of the same year a new chapel was opened at San Vicente, a very decent and church-like room, which impressed me much when I visited the town some years ago. There is accommodation for about loo, and one hopes it may yet be filled. In 1889 the Rev. E. [169/170] Martinez was moved to Valladolid, and the Rev. J. J. Riall appointed to the work in Monistrol and San Vicente. Señor Riall holds services in each place every Sunday, and also occasionally in the neighbouring towns and villages. Señor Riall has done much to improve the little church in Monistrol, and has started a fund to build an altogether new one. Negotiations are in progress as I write for the purchase of a suitable site for the purpose. The cost of a harmonium was defrayed by Miss C. Griffith, of Kingstown, Ireland, for many years an active friend of the work. In the year 1892 there was a sudden increase in the congregation. A railway was commenced to the monastery on Montserrat, and some goo workmen were lodged in the neighbourhood, and the pastor felt a responsibility towards them. He commenced by visiting them at their inns, and invited them to come to the service, and then distributed tracts and portions among them. The result was that for many weeks the church was so crowded that two services were obliged to be held to accommodate all who came. The above will give an idea of the character of the work done in this neighbourhood. It is a "casting of bread upon the waters" to a large extent. One can only hope and pray that the many days before the harvest are nearly passed. The record for the past few years is that of steady, earnest work under the care of Rev. J. J. Riall and his recently-appointed fellowlabourer, Rev. M. Estruc.
MALAGA (Spain).--The work here is of a most interesting character. I shall not soon forget the visit I paid to this church and the neighbouring mission at Puerto de la Torre, by which I was most favourably impressed. The history of the movement can only [170/171] be briefly told for want of space. Between the years 1858 and 186o several persons from reading the holy Scriptures were led to seek a purer form of faith. Among these may be mentioned Matamoros, Carrasco, and Señor Pablo Sanchez. During the banishment of the principal Reformers, some of whom had suffered imprisonment both in Granada and Malaga, the brethren met occasionally in secret. This continued to the year 1868, the year of the Revolution under General Prim. It was a time also of work, for an edition of the New Testament was printed in Spanish and privately circulated. This edition bears upon the title-page the letters I. R. M. (Iglesia Reformada do Malaga). Thus the ground was prepared; and upon the declaration of a measure of religious liberty the public preaching of the Word was commenced. The Rev. Pablo Sanchez was then entrusted with the work of evangelisation, under the auspices of the Spanish Evangelisation Society of Edinburgh. At first the numbers attending his services were very large, but eventually they declined, and Sanchez was removed to Huelva and the capilla (chapel) closed. Many of those who had professed better things in secret failed to confess Christ before men. In the year 1877 an appeal was sent to the Spanish and Portuguese Church-Aid Society to undertake work; and the Rev. Spriggs-Smith was sent out. He was heartily welcomed by a small body of about fifty who had remained faithful. The Rev. T. J. Scott (British Chaplain), the Consul, and the English doctor gave him great encouragement, and the congregation soon grew to 130 persons. The Chaplain wrote: "You will be glad to hear that I can give a good report of the work here. . . . I administered the Holy [171/172] Communion on the first Sunday of the month to thirty members, all most devout. The Bible and controversial classes are well attended."
Mr. Smith was a divinity student at this time, and at the end of 1878 was obliged to return to England to prepare for ordination. He was succeeded in Malaga by Señor Joaquim Dominguez, an earnest young Spaniard. He was educated partly in England, and is now working in connection with the South American Missionary Society. Señor Dominguez remained with the congregation in Malaga until it was received as part of the Reformed Episcopal Church, and was then removed to Seville. The Rev. Benito Rodrigo was duly appointed to Malaga, the Synod regarding him at the time as specially fitted for the post.
Steady work with good results continued until the end of the year 1884, when the south of Spain was visited by a terrible earthquake. An extract from a letter written by the Rev. B. Rodrigo at the time will give some idea of the calamity: "I was enabled to preach on Christmas Day to an exceptionally large and appreciative congregation. A few minutes after divine service was over, while sitting with my wife, who is blind, we suddenly felt the house rocking to and fro. It was indeed an anxious moment, and the words sprang to our lips, 'Lord save us or we perish.' The massive walls of our dwelling threatened to collapse and bury us beneath their ponderous weight. The creaking of beams and floors above and below, the rattle of tiles, and the crashing of church furniture in the capilla overhead, together with a muffled, though awful, reverberating sound outside, inspired such a sickening sense of insecurity and dread that we verily believed [172/173] the end of the world had come. With the shrieks and cries of a terrified population, our situation may be better imagined than described. The capilla and schools have suffered considerably, but we thank God that we have escaped with life, and that this visitation has been overruled for good and the people seem more ready to accept the consolations of the Gospel."
The chapel and schools were found to be so far destroyed that work had to be suspended until repairs were done; both were re-opened in 1885, and with an increased attendance. The following year the Synod decided to send the Rev. José M. Vila to take up the work in Malaga. Señor Vila is an ex-Roman Catholic priest, a learned, earnest, and eloquent man, and much respected in the city. He introduced the liturgy to the congregation, who gladly received it, the want of a liturgical service having been sorely felt. Soon after, he wrote, "Our Episcopal Church has a special attraction. By the severity and at the same time the sweetness of its liturgy it gently draws a people who, accustomed to the pompous liturgy of the Romish Church, are unable to suffer the violent change of passing from a service of high ritual to another destitute of all liturgical order." The mission stations in the neighbourhood of Malaga are visited from time to time by Señor Vila, and many of them--e.g. Puerto de la Torre, contain a number of people in sympathy with the Reformed Church. At a service in the latter place at the time of my visit too persons attended, joining in the liturgy, and earnestly attentive to the message of the pastor. This town had been much neglected by the Roman Church, but so soon as it was known that Señor Vila was visiting it a [173/174] vigorous effort was made to prevent the people attending the services. The following characteristic message was sent to the priest by the Reformers, "Señor Cura, you have never visited us; we were abandoned. . . Had you sought our welfare before the Evangelicos came, we, being ignorant of the Gospel, would probably have followed you to a man. But the Evangelicos have opened our eyes; they teach us the truth, and elo us good. Protestants we are, and Protestants we intend to remain, and all your menaces respecting ourselves and our children will in no wise affect our decision." The Rev. H. J. Huntingdon, British chaplain at Malaga, wrote at this time to the Society, warmly commending Señor Vila and his work; and speaking of a week-day visit he had paid to Puerto do la Torre with Señor Vila, he says, "It was delightful to sec the warm welcome he received. In the evening the room was crowded: the women seated, the men standing up. There were at least 200 outside who could not gain admittance, but who eagerly listened at the open door and windows. About fifty people escorted us hack to Malaga."
The opposition to the work here reached a climax on March 25th, 1887. A fete was arranged, at which the Reformers were to be converted en masse and heresy for ever exterminated. An image of "our Lady of Sorrows" was brought to within half a mile of the town, and a procession arranged. Soldiers were provided, as there was some doubt how the fete would be received by the people. A detachment of cavalry acted as a vanguard, followed by a number of beatas from Malaga carrying lighted tapers, after which came the image accompanied by a strong escort of clergy, alcaldes, civil [174/175] and municipal guards, and a band of music belonging to a regiment of artillery. A violent discourse was preached by a Jesuit priest, in which he frequently used the expression "Death to the Protestants!" and he so worked upon his hearers that it was feared a serious disturbance would take place. At length, however, the Bishop appeared on the balcony, and so spoke to the people that a calamity was prevented. The effect, however, was contrary to what has been desired, and subsequent visits by Señor Vila were attended by even larger numbers than before. The matter, however, did not rest here. Señor Vila published a pamphlet explaining his position, and speaking strongly of the errors of the Church of Rome. This was considered an offence against the State Church, and Señor Vila was summoned to appear before the courts to answer the charge. An order had been issued for his arrest, but bail to the amount of 2,000 pesetas (£80) was allowed. The few remaining copies of his pamphlets were seized by the authorities, and a day was fixed for oral judgment.
It was, by a curious coincidence, the anniversary of the fete at Puerto de la Torre. The Public Prosecutor spoke for an hour, and concluded by finding three counts against Señor Vila's pamphlets-(I) contempt of the doctrines and ceremonies of the (Roman) Catholic Church; (2) outraging the ministers of the said Church; (3) profanation of sacred images. A well-known counsellor had been engaged to defend Señor Vila, Don Domingo Merida, who took up the points seriatim, showing from the Bible (from which he frequently quoted) that Señor Vila had stated nothing opposed to Scriptural doctrine in his pamphlets.
 A day was appointed for Señor Vila to make his defence--a day that will never be forgotten in Malaga. An English merchant who was present said to me that it seemed as if Señor Vila was inspired for that hour. His words were listened to amid profound silence by some 2,000 persons. A dense crowd followed him from the court, and he was carried in triumph round the public square on the shoulders of the crowd. The court nevertheless pronounced judgment against him, and the sentence was two years', four months', and one day's imprisonment, 250 pesetas fine, and the payment of the costs. The only thing that could be done was to appeal from this court to the Supreme Tribunal in Madrid. This was done; and Bishop Cabrera brought all the influence possible to bear upon the authorities. Happily this was successful so far that pending the final decision Señor Vila was allowed to retain his liberty, though a large fine had to be paid. But this persecution only tended to the furtherance of the Gospel; the services in Malaga were attended by increasing numbers, and the communicants went up from 146 to 204. There was not room even at the weekday services for those desirous to attend:
Soon there came another difficulty: the house in which the services was held was sold. A large price was given by the purchaser, who did not conceal his intention of turning the Reformers out. Providentially, another house was obtained, and opened in December, 1888. The mission at Puerto do la Torre continued to succeed; and on one occasion, at the close of that year over 300 persons were present at one of the services.
On January 23rd, 1389, a general amnesty was [176/177] proclaimed by the Queen-regent for all offences connected with the Press; and this proclamation set Señor Vila entirely free to pursue his work. Services of thanksgiving were held in Malaga and at the mission stations to celebrate the event.
The statistics of the Church on December 31st, 189o, were as follows:--Malaga: Communicants on roll, 257; children in schools, 153. Puerto de la Torre: Communicants, 72; children, 51. The congregation in Malaga contributed during the year 1,471 pesetas (£59), for organist, lighting, cleaning, repairs, etc. I may mention here that collections are made in all the congregations throughout Spain and Portugal for similar objects, and that the society seeking to aid the Reformers only provides help towards the stipends of the pastors, school-teachers, and evangelists until the church may become self-supporting. The latest report from Malaga states that the number of communicants in Malaga has risen to 327--a most sure indication in Spain (as indeed everywhere) of a deepening spiritual life. There has been an amount of petty persecution, such as the dismissal of servants and workpeople from employment because of their attachment to the Church; and again the Reformers have been evicted from their place of worship and obliged to seek for another in its stead.
But notwithstanding these difficulties, there is every reason to thank God and take courage. Malaga is a very good centre for mission work, and there are many groups of Reformers in the villages round. We may fully expect a development of the work in this neighbourhood.
CIGALES (near Valladolid, Spain).--In the year 1894 [177/178] it was found tilat a group of Reformers residing in this town desired the advice of a pastor to help them in the organisation of a congregation. The Rev. E. Martinez, from Valladolid, paid several visits, and found a very remarkable work going on. The deeply interesting account of this recent development of the Reformed Church will be found in the "First Visitation of Bishop Cabrera." (See p. 100.)
SALAMANCA (Spain).--This city is the capital of a province in Spain, and is famous for its University. It has about 16,000 inhabitants, a few manufactures, and some commercial industry. It is a city of churches, for besides the two cathedrals, the old and the new, it has twenty-five parish churches, twenty-five churches belonging to monasteries, and twenty-five attached to convents for females. The number of resident ecclesiastics in Salamanca is said to be about 500. There is an Irish college here, in which about twelve young Irishmen are yearly prepared for the priesthood. In the year 1879 the Rev. Benito Rodrigo commenced mission work in the city; and, meeting with some acceptance, a little capilla was opened in the month of June that year. At first there were only eleven communicants, and great was the ridicule poured upon this insignificant body; but they grew, and in December, 1880, the congregation sought to be joined to the Spanish Reformed Church. The petition was signed by the pastor and forty-nine members, twentythree of whom were communicants.
On March 1st, 1881, the congregation was provisionally admitted into union, and at the Synod held in Seville a few days afterwards was formally received into the Spanish Church. Señor Rodrigo was [178/179] subsequently removed to Malaga to take charge of the work there, and the Rev. Antonio Garcia, who had been brought up in Madrid, was appointed to succeed him. Señor Garcia was thought to be the right man for such a post, having worked for some time as an evangelist and colporteur; and the event showed the wisdom of the choice. His work in Salamanca was singularly blessed. The Bishop-elect visited the town in May, 1881, and examined carefully into all matters connected with the church. Services were held, but the available space was found quite inadequate, the crowd filling the porch and blocking parts of the street. Thirty partook of the Holy Communion, and two boys were baptised by Señor Cabrera. The pressing need at this time was a building for church purposes. Two deputations from neighbouring villages came to see the Bishop-elect asking for a pastor to visit them, and it was felt that Salamanca might become a centre for mission work. In June the same year Señor Garcia visited the neighbouring town of Topas, and was well received by a large number of the people. Visits were also paid the following January to Pedrosillo el Ralo Gomecillo, Pajares, and Castellanos with much success.
In February, 1883, another visit was paid by the Bishop-elect, as the members greatly desired to receive the Holy Communion. It proved a most interesting event. On the Sunday numbers attended from the neighbouring towns, and the chapel was filled to overflowing. The Bishop-elect preached a sermon upon the necessity of church reform, and "curiosity, interest, approbation, and surprise were depicted upon the upturned faces." It was clear that to some the message of salvation was perfectly new. About thirty [179/180] partook of the Holy Communion. Among the new adherents at this time was an elderly man who had attended the services for some two years. He was a sculptor, a clever workman, his specialty being the "Virgin of Sorrows." He decided to give up his work, and his invariable reply, to those who sought a new image was, "I have forsaken my craft, and do not wish to encourage idolatry." Fortunately he had good means. Señor Garcia was much encouraged, too, on being sent for by a sick lady to find she had been reading her Bible, though secretly, and was already a true believer in Christ. Much opposition and even persecution were manifested at this time by the priests, but Señor Garcia steadily won his way with the authorities, and was successful in encouraging a more tolerant spirit towards the Reformers. A difficulty arose about the cemetery, the bodies of the Reformers being refused admittance, although the law distinctly provided for the case, but this prohibition was eventually removed by the tact of the pastor.
The Synod made at this time a change, in the pastorate of Salamanca, and Señor Garcia was sent to the important village of Villacscusa, the Rev. J. Cañellas being appointed to the former charge.
The congregation had long been praying that a new building might be found, the one in use being most unsuitable. At length the answer came, and new premises were obtained at the end of 1884 on a five years' lease. The improvement was great, although there was a drawback in the fact that it was next door to the Lyceum Theatre. The capilla was fifty-seven feet long by fifteen feet wide, and held many more than the old building.
 The congregation had by this time grown to fortytwo communicants and thirty-nine probationers, with every prospect of increase. But, alas! persecution increased. The Bishop and some friends bought the house rented by the pastor, broke the contract, and turned his family into the street. However, a new building was at length found, and the work continued to progress.
In 1889 the congregation commenced a fund to provide themselves with an entirely new church building, the present plan of renting a house being found unsatisfactory and insecure. In the meantime the building in use was re-decorated and re-furnished to give it a more church-like appearance. Miss Forrest gave a service of plate for the Holy Communion. The Committee of the Spanish and Portuguese Church-Aid Society having heard of the local effort, decided to make a grant towards the new church. Mr. J. Forrest, C.F., who had already taken a warm interest in the work, drew out a plan, and kindly offered to superintend the work. A site was at length found, and the foundation stone laid in prayer and hope. Through the energy of Mr. Forrest the work was quickly carried out, and at the end of 1894 the church was completed and opened for divine service. The Rev. Romaldo Jimenez, a long-tried lay worker, was appointed to minister to the congregation. He is now in full orders, and carrying on an earnest work. His report for the year 1895, attested by Mr. Forrest, is most encouraging, and gives most interesting accounts of new members who have joined the Church. A school has been opened, and there are thirty-five children on the roll. It is hoped that a school-house may soon be added to the church, [181/182] the pastor's residence being now used for the purpose at much inconvenience. We can sincerely re-echo the words of Señor Jimenez, "How good the Lord has been to this portion of His Church!" [While these pages were passing through the press, Mr. Forrest (to whom the Church in Salamanca owes so much) has been taken, at a ripe old age, to his rest. To him to die was gain, but to the Reformers of Salamanca the loss can scarce be repaired.]
Visitors to Salamanca should not omit to examine the two cathedrals; for an important object-lesson is to be gained there. From the arrangements of the two buildings (especially as regards the position of the Holy Table) the difference between the old Church of Spain and modern Romanism is clearly marked, and an illustration found of the fact that the Reformers desire to return to the "old paths."