Roman Catholicism

1502- Roman Catholicism is recognized as the country’s main religion.

From the very beginning of their independence, religion played a prominent role in Spain’s government. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel were the head of the Christian nations of Spain and their consolidation gave the country a strong base to build from.  This unification of kingdoms gain Spain the strength to retake their land from Muslim rule 1492. Shortly after, the King and Queen deport all reported Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity.  This was part of what became know as the Spanish Inquisition; the “religious purification” of Spain, Portugal and several other surrounding territories.  Anyone who did not accept the Catholic faith was driven from these lands.  After Columbus returned from his voyage to America missionaries are sent abroad to educate and convert the people of the new world to Christianity.

During Franco’s rule, Catholicism was the only recognized religion and Catholics were the only ones who were allowed to public display their faith.  They also had control of all literacy the circulated Spain during this time.  Catholic views were blended with government practices and several laws were passed that directly correlated with what the Church believed to be correct.  In 1978, under the new constitution, Catholicism was renounced as the official religion and many of its freedoms were limited and regulated.  Religious freedom was granted to all Spaniards and separation of church and state was firmly established.

Today Catholicism is still the most widely claimed religion in Spain with around 55% of the population.   Although it is not stated as the official religion there is no denying the presence of Catholicism through numerous Cathedrals, statues and other religious symbol.    It’s influence is  seen today as there are  several large festivals and holidays that while they are from a religious background, have been adopted as part of the culture.  The grand scales Spaniards go to to put on these events says a lot about their reverence for their faith.  Several of the large events include Semana Santa and La Feria de Abril.  These occur directly before Easter and include many festivities, parades and traditions of the Catholic.  Holy week is celebrated with feasts and processions and is a time of joy and thankfulness for many Catholics.

Recently there has been discussion as to how much religion should effect politics. When gay marriage was declared legal throughout the country, it was a huge deviation from the values and beliefs of the catholic church.  However in recent years there has been an increase in the number of people attending mass and donating to the church.  Therefore, there is no evidence that Spain will soon depart from their strong ties to Catholicism, which is understandable given how big of an impact it has played in Spain’s history.