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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 IX. Appendix.

I HAVE thought it well to gather together in this chapter some few of the testimonies which have been given by eminent and competent persons during the progress of the work. Most of them were entirely unsolicited, and are given, as will be seen, either by those who, by reading the reports, have been convinced of the excellence of the principles upon which the work has been carried on; or by travellers who, having seen the reality of the work, have felt compelled to bear their testimony to it. At one of the earliest meetings on behalf of the Society which seeks to aid the Reformers, so far back as 1871, the late EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said, speaking on the weighty issues involved in this movement, "that one of the most important men in Europe had lately said, 'Of all dangers by far the greatest is the progress of the Papal power.' It was, then, for us to go on and carry out this magnificent campaign against all the powers of darkness, superstition, and error."

Miss E. J. WHATELY, daughter of the late Archbishop of Dublin, wrote in 1872 to the Colonial and Continental Society;--Mr. Tugwell first took advantage of the newly-acquired freedom to open a school for residents--English children, and those of mixed parentage--but the Spaniards, to some of whom he had privately ministered in the times of persecution, eagerly sought a share of the privilege. Very interesting is the school held in the quarter called Triana, a very poor district."

This year, in the Annual Report of the COLONIAL AND CONTINENTAL SOCIETY, the work was referred to, and specially commended to the friends of the Society.

Rev. TALBOT GREAVES, and Dr. Davis, of the Religious Tract Society, also wrote commending the work at this time. The latter said:--"A distinctive feature of this agency is that alone in Spain it is an Evangelical Church of England work, and as such should be widely known and well supported."

In 1875 an interesting letter was written to the Record by Rev. T. TURNER, editor of the Church Sunday-School Magazine, giving an account of a visit to Spain. He said, "At Seville we were much pleased with all we saw. We found a fine church (San Basilio) has been secured in the centre.of the city. It was a goodly sight to see the flock on the Sunday. We found to our surprise, schools in a highly efficient state."

[184] In the Report for 1875-1876 we find an extract from a paper by a NONCONFORMIST MINISTER, quoted for the purpose of showing that a liturgical service is valued by the Spaniards:--"At San Basilio, which belongs to Mr. Tugwell's Mission, the Prayer-Book, translated into Spanish, is in constant use, and the people seem to take their part in the service with intelligent interest. What struck Inc as most singular was to see the minister, Señor Palomares, habited in a white surplice, and standing in the pulpit. An ex-priest from Portugal read the prayers and lessons It is a question whether a liturgical service, conducted with some regard to form and ceremony, may not be better suited to a people like the Spaniards than the free prayer and simple forms of other modes of worship."

On July 12th, 1876, Captain AYLMER SOMERSET wrote:--"In the evening of 21st of May I attended a Spanish service, the basis of which was our Book of Common Prayer. I was surpr sed at the number present--some 200 in church. I have much pleasure in bearing my testimony to the active and zealous manner in which the work of this mission is being carried out, and to the excellence of the education"

Dated January 29th, 1877, Rev. W. N. GUINESS, Vicar of Christ Church, South Yarra, Melbourne, writes:--"On last evening I attended the Spanish services in Seville at seven o'clock. San Basilio was again crowded. Señor Aguilera preached. Señor Palomares using a liturgy translated from our English PrayerBook. There were 104 communicants. Subsequently an infant was baptised, a translation of the English rite being used."

Rev. F. J. C. MORAN, Secretary of the Colonial and Continental Church Society, paid a visit to Seville in 1878, and reported: "On the following Sunday evening we joined in evening service (San Basilio). Selections from our own Book of Common Prayer, with cheerful hymns and chants, made us feel at home, though the tongues were strange. Forty-eight partook of the Holy Communion. Surely this work is blessed by God, and deserves all support."

In 1879 the Rev. T. J. SCOTT, British Chaplain at Malaga, visited Lisbon, and wrote as follows of the work there:--"I think it may be a satisfaction to you to hear of a visit I paid to one of the Reformed Episcopal Churches here last Sunday evening It is where Senhor Chaves, the ex-Roman Catholic priest, ministers. The first thing that struck me on entering was the cleanliness and order which seemed to pervade the whole room, every bench in a straight line, and every book in its place. As to the service itself, it was wonderfully well conducted. The manner in which the people responded, knelt down, and stood up at the right places, and altogether the air of, reverence spread over the whole thing, was both striking and edifying. It was a grand thing to hearthe services of our Prayer-Book read in the language of this country: [184/185] and not only that, but to hear the canticles, glorias, hymns, &c., chanted and sung to the old tunes which one remembers from the earliest times of one's infancy."

At an important meeting on behalf of the cause in December, 1880, at the house of Lord Plunket, the late ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN (TRENCH) said "that the good news they had heard was indeed welcome, for there was no sadder history than the record of those fair hopes of reformation in Spain which had been blasted in the past.

"When in the 16th century the breath of a general awakening passed over many a field of dry bones in Christendom, and when in one after another of the nations these dry bones seemed to stand up and live, it did seem for a time as if Spain was about to take its part in the great movement.

"But the work of reform in Spain wanted a popular basis; it was confined mainly to the learned and the great, and it was crushed out. Many suffered exile and imprisonment, some died a cruel death, but never did crime meet more signally with its retribution. Spain, which had held the foremost place in Christendom, became the last among the nations. But there had now succeeded a happier time, and he welcomed with thanksgiving a meeting such as the present that had been gathered for the purpose of helping forward a new effort after Church Reform. From what he had heard, he had little doubt that the work now begun would go forward, and that small as was its beginning, the 'little one' would. become a thousand. It would be a sad and humiliating thing if hereafter, when this happy result had taken place, it could be said that we had been asked to take part in bringing it about and had refused; that we had looked on with languid curiosity at these struggling churches in the hour of their weakness, but had lent them no help."

At the Annual Meeting in 1882, the EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said, "I have a very deep and very earnest sympathy with this question." Mr. SYDNEY GEDGE, M.P., who had lately visited Spain, at the same meeting bore testimony to the reality of the work. This year the (late) BISHOP OF DOWN spoke heartily in favour of the work at a meeting in Belfast; the BISHOP OF CASHEL in Waterford, the BISHOP OF DERRY (ALEXANDER) in Derry, and the Bishop (Ryle) in Liverpool.

In 1886 the sister of the late FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL wrote: "Lately I found memoranda of my dear sister's subscriptions to the Spanish and Portuguese Church-Aid Society. I know how scanty her pocket-money was at that time, but she always faithfully set apart a portion every Sunday morning for the Lord's work. I remember also the deep interest with which she read. the reports of your society--reports, the result of much thought, and splendidly composed. She rejoiced in the good work done by the society;"

[186] In the same year Rev. H. J. HUNTINGDON, British Chaplain at Malaga, wrote of the work there. "I have frequently attended Senior Vila's ministrations, and can testify to the ability and earnestness with which they are carried on. His sermons are of a high order, eloquent, affectionate, and full of real teaching. His church is filled with the poor to whom the Gospel is preached. It is good to hear them join in the singing and shout out the responses of the Liturgy."

In 1887 the BISHOP OF LONG ISLAND, Rev. A. N. Littlejohn, paid a visit to Seville and to the Church of San Basilio. Afterwards he wrote to the New York Churchman:--"I was deeply impressed by what I snw and heard, and especially by the absorbing interest with which the congregation listened to my message of sympathy and encouragement from the American Episcopal Church. They are a simple but a warm-heated and devoted people, and have great difficulty in keeping up their organisation under the indirect but irritating persecution of the ignorant and superstitious population around them."

The late ARCHBISHOP OF YORK (Dr. THOMSON) after hearing a statement, said: "There was great cause for encouragement in the statements they had just heard. He thought that the reformers in Spain and Portugal were exceedingly fortunate in having gained the advocacy of Lord Plunket. He had no doubt that the work so begun, and so manifestly under the Divine will, would go on and prosper."

The RIGHT REV. BISHOP COXE wrote:--"I have felt a very deep interest in the Spanish and Portuguese matter. I trust the case may be met."

The BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL: "I think I ought to appeal to all Christian philanthropists to see what the work is which is put before them by the Spanish and Portuguese Church. You have a grand vista of work, if the work brought before you to-day is allowed to go forth and prosper, by which the Gospel shall be allowed to be carried to generations yet unborn."

The late Primus of the Scotch Episcopal Church: "Evangelic truth and Apostolic order appears to me to be your watchword, and in your struggle to maintain this you will, I trust, obtain sympathy and substantial support from every branch of the Anglican communion."

In the same year Rev. H. L. DIXON, Chaplain at Seville, referring to the re-opening of San Basilio after repairs, wrote:"It was my privilege as British Chaplain at Seville to address a few words to a full congregation at the opening service, and at a later date to speak to about a hundred children belonging to Mrs. Palomares' schools, at their annual fete. Did Englishmen realise the greatness of the work being done, there would be more liberal support accorded to the struggling Spanish Protestant churches."

Rev. W. PRESTON, M.A., Vicar of Holy Trinity, Runcorn, and [186/187] the Rev. C. H. BANNING, Vicar of Strood, both visited Spain at this time and wrote long and favourable accounts of the work.

The Rev. GEORGE YEATES was British Chaplain at Seville in 189o, and during his visit wrote a letter to Lord Plunket, giving his impressions. He said:--"The two clergymen who serve the Reformed Churches here are Señors Palomares and Baquero, formerly priests of the Church of Rome. . . . They seem both to be earnest, zealous men, and have surrounded themselves with a goodly number of adherents. There are about eighty communicants attached to one of these churches, and about sixty-five to the other. These figures, however, do not represent the number of Protestants in the town, as a very large number of them are in Government employments, and at present are afraid of incurring persecution if they make any outward demonstration of their faith. A large number of them also live in the locality of one of these churches (the Triana), which has been closed for the last two years as not considered safe. The only opportunity we have had of attending service in the two churches open has been on the weekday evenings, and at these we have been much pleased to see the large attendance comparatively, the heartiness of the service, and the intelligent earnestness of those present. The average attendance at these services is forty-five at one, and seventy at the other."

In the years 1894-1895 a series of letters with regard to the work in Madrid appeared in the organ of the Society, from the pen of Mr. W. HIMELY, who had gone to Seville to take a medical degree. He spoke Spanish fluently, and regularly attended the services, and his testimony is of great value as to the reality of the work.

In the early part of 1894 the Right Rev. the BISHOP OF IOWA (Dr. Perry) paid a visit to Spain, and took the opportunity of examining the work. He embodied his impressions in the following letter to the Archbishop of Dublin:--


"It is with great pleasure that I hasten to comply with your Grace's request to give in writing my impressions of the reformed movement in Spain, so far as it came under my notice during my recent hurried visit to that country.

"It must be borne in mind that I was unable to see all the stations where work was being done, in consequence of the limited time at my disposal. Still I saw enough to convince me that the representations which have been made as to the extent and promise of this reformation work have not been exaggerated. It is possible that my testimony may be the more worthy of consideration, in view of the fact that I went to Spain deeply prejudiced against this movement, and quite disposed to judge it with disfavour. I had read the serious attacks made in the English and American Church newspapers, all adversely criticising the importance of the [187/188] movement, the churchmanship of these reformers, the numbers and social position of their adherents, and especially the offices of their Book of Common Prayer. The opportunity offering, I felt bound to in'cstigate for myself this Spanish reform movement, and judge as impartially as I could with reference to its nature, its extent, and its prospects.

"My stay at Barcelona was too brief to permit a personal examination of the reform work in the vicinity of that city. But the replies I received to the inquiries I addressed to persons resident on the spot, and claiming to be familiar with this mission, and the personal interviews I had at a later date with one of its members, were in every way satisfactory. It was not till we reached Seville that I came in direct contact with the movement for reform. Here I met the excellent and accomplished priest in charge of this station, and learned from him, and from an American resident holding the Bishop of Gibraltar's license as a lay-reader, definite particulars of the work. Here are two churches with their parochial schools and their mission appliances, reaching a large number of adults, and certainly several hundreds of children. The latter are taught definite Church teaching. Both the Bible and the Catechism of the Church form a part of their daily study; and the Bishop of North Dakota, who was my fellow traveller, and who personally inspected the larger church and school, was especially impressed with the devotion of the priest, the faithfulness of the teachers, and the evident interest of the people; while the children by their numbers, their recitations, their singing, and their attention to their instructors, gave the fullest possible promise for the future of this noteworthy and growing work. The priest in charge at this parish, originally ordained in the Roman Communion, had successfully passed his examination for a medical degree at the University with a view of increasing his means of usefulness, and was thus able to minister to the bodies as well as the souls of his people. This good man had favourably impressed the Bishop of Long Island when visiting Seville some years ago. Bishop Littlejohn, I was assured, attended the services of these reformers, received the. sacrament at the hands of the priest, and had expressed himself in words and deeds as deeply interested in the prospects and promise of this movement.

"We were at Madrid on the Feast of the Ascension. The populace of the capital thronged the streets, the squares and parks, and the bull-ring. But in the noble church school and residence-buildings, which occupy a sightly and prominent position in the very heart of the city, r55 individuals, of whom perhaps half a-dozen were little children, and a third of their number at least were men, gathered to the services of the Reformed Spanish Church. The visiting Bishops from the United States occupied seats in the chancel. The service--that for the day--as found in the Spanish Prayer-Book, and largely compiled from Mozarabic sources, as the lauds [188/189] and antiphons specially indicated, was engaged in with the closest attention and fervour by nearly every one in attendance. The responses were full and clear. It was evident from the readiness with which the worshippers tendered their part of the service that the majority of those present were perfectly familiar with the offices of their Church and accustomed to their public use. The Spanish clergy wore the surplice and white stoles over their cassocks. The priest in charge--the Rev. J. B. Cabrera--read with great earnestness and simplicity the Psalms, the lessons, and the prayers. His assistant preached an eloquent sermon, which was listened to with almost breathless attention. Señor Cabrera, towards the close of the service, introduced the American Bishops, who wore the usual Anglican episcopal habit. The Bishop of North Dakota gave an earnest practical discourse, impressing upon his hearers the lessons of the day. This was interpreted to the congregation by Señor Cabrera, who speaks English fluently. I then told the people of the interest which, as an American and a Bishop of the Catholic--but not the Roman--Church, I felt in their worship and their work, and assured them that I could not fail to bear willing testimony to the reality of the devotion they had manifested, and the interest they had displayed in the services in which we had just participated. At the close of a prolonged service, I conversed individually with a number of the leading men connected with the movement, and heard from them in their own tongue or in broken English of their hopes and desires.

"I should have mentioned that the service was largely musical, and was rendered by the choir and congregation with great fervour and with excellent taste. There was no attempt to copy Anglican styles, but the music was distinctly Spanish in its composition and character. The church, which was commodious, neat, and even beautiful in its design and finish, was thoroughly 'churchly' in its arrangements and appointments. The altar was placed in the middle of the sanctuary, as is usual in the Basilica type of churches, and a large cross, gilded and properly proportioned, was embossed upon the wall of the. chancel apse. There had been another cross about four feet in length placed outside on the front of the church building, but the municipal authorities, at the instigation of the Ultramontane party, had ordered it to be taken down. It is now in the robing-room, awaiting replacement on a better day.

"We were not permitted, in consequence of the same Ultramontane opposition, to enter the church by the front doors. These had been closed by order of the local authorities at the instigation of the Roman priests, and the clergy and congregation were compelled to enter through the side buildings--the one devoted to school purposes, the other to the residence of the priest in charge and his family. I examined the school-rooms--those for the girls' school, the boys' school, and for the students in theology, each of these classes of scholars being provided with commodious rooms [189/190] in this fine group of buildings on Beneficencia Street, not far from the last auto da fé in the Spanish capital. In these schools instruction is given to upwards of a hundred children.

"The school furniture is of the best. Libraries are within the students' reach, and there is no lack of pupils seeking the religious and culturing advantages here abundantly offered.

"I had expected to see only poor, and possibly degraded people, as forming the congregation. I should not have been repelled had my expectations been realised. 'Not many rich' are called, and in a movement like this, against which are arrayed the wealthy, the noble, the powerful, and the priestly classes, it was evident that the reformers must, at least at the first, find their adherents among the poor, who are rich alone in faith. Great was my surprise to see so intelligent, so well-clad, and so well-appearing a congregation before me, quite equalling, so far as one could judge by the appearance, the average worshippers in our English, Irish, or American churches.

"There were, indeed, one or two workmen present in their frocks, who had evidently come from their daily toil, and were probably intending to return to work when the service was through. There were women in the assembly, whose attire told of their daily labour, but these were the exceptions.

"The majority of the congregation were evidently well-to-do, if one could judge by their dress and general appearance. I learned later, by conversation with the vestrymen and others of the attendants at service, that among those present on this festival occasion were representatives of the press, of the local writers of the day, of the civic officials of the lower grades, and of men of some standing and influence in the community, while tradesmen and artificers, clerks and bookkeepers, made up the rest. It was of interest in this land of an imperfect civilisation--witness the thousands thronging the bull-fight this very day--and an imperfect Christianity as well, to catch glimpses, as we were privileged to do, of the home life of Palomares and of Cabrera, which of itself alone would, by its exhibition of a domestic felicity and attractiveness such as an Anglican Communion can alone produce, prove a regenerating influence in a land, and among a people, where the home idea is so little understood. The examples of a Christian household, such as we saw both in Madrid and Seville, clustering respectively around the married priests of this reform movement, will, I am confident, afford an invaluable argument for the reform work itself. From Christian homes such as these the Church will be built up in numbers, and in every grace, for the home and the Church are each of God, and the influences of each are faithward and Godward. I learned with no little satisfaction that the matter of valid and indisputable 'orders' is most carefully considered by these Spanish reformers. Señor Cabrera showed me the originals of his letters of orders, received from the Archbishop of Valencia, [190/191] and in every respect and particular conclusive of his full and canonical reception of the priestly office. In the Synod book of the Reformed Spanish Church the text of the letters of orders of each priest connected with the reform movement is entered in full and duly attested, everyone being either of Roman or Anglican ordination. Something may be said in passing as to the offices of the Spanish Prayer-Book. I have examined this liturgical work critically, both in its original and in the authorised translation, with its marginal references to the sources--Mozarabic, Latin, English, Irish, American--whence each portion is derived, and I can confidently say that these offices are far more 'Catholic' in their tone and teaching, and more doctrinally and liturgically correct and orthodox than those of 'the Proposed Book' adopted by the (American) 'churches in the Middle and Southern States' in 1785, when without a bishop. It was on the submission of this very imperfect and uncatholic book to the English archbishops and bishops in 1786-87, that with the requirement of but trifling changes, and even these left in a measure discretionary, the English hierarchy communicated to White and Provoost the apostolic succession in the English line. As a result of this venture of faith in completing the episcopal polity of the American churches, 'the Proposed Book' was superseded by general consent as soon as it had its bishops at the helm, and the closer following of the English Prayer-Book was at once secured. It was thus by the conservative influence of the episcopal order that the churchmanship of the American Church was developed, and it has been growing more and more 'Catholic,' in the truest sense of that much abused word, from that day to this. If the Spanish offices are as yet not all that one could wish, I cannot but submit, in view of the experience of the American Church, that the surest way to improve the churchmanship of this reform movement, and to make its Prayer-Book truly and in every particular 'Catholic,' is to place Bishops at the helm. The presence of two American Bishops in Madrid, and their participation in a public service of the Reformed Spanish Church occurred at the very time when attention had been called to the purpose of the Irish Bishops to consecrate a Bishop for Spain by an Ultramontane nobleman in the Spanish Cortes. So far from arousing any apparent excitement, or feeling of irritation, the visit of the American Bishops was referred to by the Liberal press, as showing how intolerant and absurd the attitude of the Ultramontane party in opposing this reform movement appeared to the public generally. The Ultramontanes were reminded that it was within the power of those visiting American Bishops to take the step, if they chose, that Lord Plunket and his brother Bishops had in mind. The question was publicly and pertinently pressed, 'Who could properly, and in view of the constitutional guarantee of religious toleration, object to such an act?' So far from arousing any ill feeling, or exciting any disturbance or awakening [191/192] any display of fanatical opposition on the part of the priests or people, we were most courteously treated and most respectfully received everywhere, and by all classes and conditions of men with whom we came in contact. There was never occasion even for an apprehension of disturbance or danger. It seemed alone necessary to make it dear that the plan proposed was not to 'intrude' the English or Irish Church into Spain, but to revive and foster a Spanish national movement for reform on primitive and Catholic principles, having the Apostolic ministry and succession, and possessing a Spanish liturgy, chiefly, or in large part, gathered from Spanish sources. With this as the purpose in view, I was assured by persons on the ground that the various elements in Spain impatient of the Roman yoke would gladly unite in the effort to build up anew that which for centuries existed in Spain independent of Rome--a Catholic Independent National Church of Spain, free from state control, concerned alone with spiritual things.

"With this brief statement of the impressions I received on my late visit in Spain, I am, my dear Lord Plunket, faithfully and most truly, your Grace's affectionate friend and brother,

"Bishop of Iowa.

"London, July 14, 1894."

Very many other testimonies might be given, such as those of His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, Canon Meyrick, Professor Mayor, Rev. Storer Clarke, and many other friends, who have examined into the reality of the movement, but I must bring this chapter to a close. I will only add that I know the Committee in London desire the fullest investigation, being convinced that every honest inquirer will be fully satisfied as to the promise of the work and the correctness of the statements published with regard to it.

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