In recent decades, as it moved to shed the legacy of Franco’s years of dictatorship and found a newly integrated place in the European Union, Spain has undergone remarkable cultural and religious change. Once the most solidly Catholic of countries, Spain today retains relatively high levels of nominal membership, but in many other regards is remarkably secular. Many of those who claim Catholic affiliation seldom attend church.

While those who track church attendance and other measures might see decline, a number of important feasts and devotions suggest the opposite. Long lines of pilgrims wait to see the Black Madonna of Montserrat, in Catalonia, and pilgrims visit all day at sites like the cathedral in Zaragoza, home to Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Holy Week in Seville, a centuries-old tradition that one might expect to be much diminished in a secular environment, is a remarkably vibrant event that takes over the city for more than a week. The confraternities that organize the processions are a deep part of the religious and social fabric of the city, and carry on their activities all year long. Read more...


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