The Valley of the Fallen, a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation

May God help us so that, following the example of the martyrs, we may be faithful to him until the end!

On April 1, 1940, just one year after the end of the civil war, General Franco wrote the decree founding the Valley of the Fallen monument, ordering that the Basilica be built.

To further enhance the liturgical worship of the Basilica, a monastic Order, the Benedictine Order, was chosen in 1955 to take care of the Basilica and guarantee the spiritual dimension that the entire monument as a whole should have. For this, a request was made to the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos), a monastery with a long tradition restored in 1880 by monks from France from the Congregation of Solesmes.

On the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, on July 17, 1958, twenty monks arriving from Silos undertook the beginning of the life of the new Benedictine community in the Valley of the Fallen. On October 23 of that same year, Father Justo Pérez de Urbel, previously prior of the monastery of Our Lady of Montserrat in Madrid, dependent on Silos, received the abbot’s blessing in Madrid.

Currently, the number of monks in the Valley is 16 religious. Their life is by a code written in the 6th century, the Rule of Saint Benedict, educator of generations of monks, and which has left its mark on the spiritual, social, and cultural history of Europe.

If we look at the founding documents of the Valley, we notice that the emphasis is placed directly on the religious, social, and cultural purposes at the service of the pending work of concord and justice among the Spanish, apart from serving as a memory and burial mound. of all the fallen.

The presence of a monastery and monks also underlines its not simply commemorative meaning, but mainly its spiritual and cultural character.

The idea of the Valley was that war would never happen again. This is observed in the founding documents of 1957 and 1958, which determine the prayer for all those killed in the war; the impetration for Spain and for the world of divine blessings that obtain peace, prosperity and well-being; the celebration of solemn worship in the basilica; the research and study effort that addresses the problems of social progress and justice in Spain. The exclusion of all political activity is observed and, instead, direct attention to religious and social purposes.

In accordance with the purpose of the monument, a total of more than 33,700 fallen people from both sides are buried in the Basilica, according to the registry, from all over Spain. Many are perfectly identified personally and others came from mass graves, which also made their perfect accounting difficult at the time. There is no separation by sides, but rather they are intermingled.

The Democratic Memory Law that came into force on October 20, 2022, declared the Foundation of the Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos (foundation that has governed this monument since its beginnings) extinct, and established that this would take place on the date of entry into force of the royal decree that will determine the organization, operation and patrimonial regime of the so-called, in accordance with this law, the Cuelgamuros Valley.

Thus, against the measures taken by PP and VOX in some autonomous communities, the Government has decided to accelerate the resignification of the Valley and include in its annual forecasts for 2024 a decree to regulate its operation. To make the government’s intentions visible, Sánchez himself visited the Valle forensic laboratory last Thursday, April 11. He has done it by surprise and in parallel with the announcement that they will appeal to the UN and the EU against the so-called “concord laws” that are being approved by the right in places like Aragon, Castilla y León or Valencia.

In the preamble of this Democratic Memory Law, it speaks of “serving to promote peace, pluralism and, especially, being a condemnation of all types of political totalitarianism that puts at risk the rights and freedoms inherent to human dignity.”

As anyone interested in knowing the truth can see, there is a great contradiction. We are talking about a government that with its decisions and laws has come to lift wounds already healed and outrages already forgiven, dividing the Spaniards who had achieved reconciliation after the bloody civil war.

They come to talk to us about peace, pluralism, condemnation of political totalitarianism and rights and freedoms inherent to human dignity, while at the same time decreeing the demolition of a monument created solely for the purpose of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Those in charge of this Law, called Democratic Memory, are responsible for having created the black and false legend about the Valley. They present it as a place of disgrace and suffering for its builders, who have been described as slaves of the Franco regime. The truth, well documented by historian Alberto Bárcena Pérez, is that “there was no forced labor, nor was it a concentration camp. The prisoners of the Valley requested to go there because of the advantages that the redemption of work sentences represented for them; the salary equal to that of the free workers who also worked there, with prisoners and free workers having the same working conditions; in addition to the installation of their families next to them, when they requested it, in four towns that were built within the Valley with their school, hospital, commissary and church.”

Another false cliché is that it was built to glorify the victors of the civil war and become Franco’s grandiose tomb. However, it would not have been difficult for them to find out what the head of state’s motivations were for its construction if they had gone directly to the decree signed on the first anniversary of the end of the war, which speaks of the purpose of “perpetuating the memory of our glorious Crusade and memory of those who fell on both sides.”

The classification of the War as a Crusade has been criticized, but it cannot be denied that it had that component and that the Catholic Church itself classified it in the same way. There are verifiable data that have been carefully studied by the Church. This, after a meticulous study directed by the historian Monsignor Carcel Ortiz in the year 2000, coinciding with the jubilee year, formally recognized the figure of 10,000 as those martyred in the religious persecution that took place in Spain before and during the civil war. To date, 2,053 are already on the altars (12 saints and 2,041 blessed) and about 2,000 more are in the process of beatification. Likewise, some 20,000 Churches were burned or destroyed.

For the rest, General Francisco Franco himself was in charge of clarifying in a second provision, by Decree-Law of August 23, 1957, who should be honored in the Valley:

“The sacred duty of honoring our heroes and our martyrs must always be accompanied by the feeling of forgiveness that the evangelical message imposes. Furthermore, the decades that have followed Victory have seen the development of a policy guided by the highest sense of unity and brotherhood among Spaniards.

This must be, consequently, the Monument to ALL the fallen, whose sacrifice the peacemaking arms of the CROSS triumph.”

Franco’s cousin, Lieutenant General Franco y Salgado Araujo, when publishing his memoirs, speaks of his interview with the then head of State about the Valley of the Fallen in which General Francisco Franco declared:

“The monument (del Valle) was not made to continue dividing the Spanish into two irreconcilable sides. It was done, and that was always my intention, as a memory of a victory against communism, which tried to dominate Spain. This justifies my wish that the fallen Catholics of both sides can be buried.

We do not fight against a republican regime, we fight to stop the anarchy that reigned in Spain and that inevitably led to a communist dictatorship. With the uprising of the army (an uprising that was not initiated by General Francisco Franco) and the war, the path to communism was cut off.”

None of the Valley’s detractors, nor the socialist/communist rulers, nor the “expert commissions,” want to know the truth. They do not want to know how it was built, or what it really means, since such knowledge would be incompatible with their interests and their own ideology.

It is worth remembering here Franco’s words in one of his historic speeches, on April 1, 1959, at the inauguration of the Valley of the Fallen, then recognized worldwide as “the monument of national reconciliation.” He warned us:

The anti-Spanish forces (communism and freemasonry) were defeated and destroyed, but they have not died. Periodically, we see how they raise their heads, and in their arrogant blindness they try to poison and stimulate again the innate curiosity of youth. For this reason, it is necessary to silence the influence of bad teachers on the new generations.”

We must strive to know the truth, the true historical memory, pass it on to our children and grandchildren, teach it to all those around us and pray that these anti-Spanish and anti-Christian forces, whose sole purpose is to destroy the largest CROSS in the world (150 meters ), sign of forgiveness and reconciliation, be defeated by the forces of good and truth.

I would like to include the words of Santiago Cantera, prior of the Valley of the Fallen, on March 6, 2024 for Misión magazine:

“In Spain there is hatred of the cross. There have been statements from the media and politicians that have explicitly requested the demolition of this cross. It is noted that the cross is a sign of contradiction. “Jesus Christ himself is a sign of contradiction among men because he brings a message of truth and love, and many reject it.”

Likewise, when the prior speaks about the martyrs, many of them buried in the Valley (70 blessed and 44 servants of God), he assures:

“White martyrdom in some way we already have to live it. I ask God to give me the courage to defend the faith and His Holy Name. Blood martyrdom is a grace. Since I was a child I have asked on several occasions to die a martyr. I would like it because it is a direct step to Heaven. But ultimately it is God who grants this grace.”

God will judge us all, both those who believe in Him and try to follow His teachings, and those who deliberately reject Him. His mercy and forgiveness extends to all of us until the moment of our death, but when it comes to us, and it will inexorably come to all of us, we will encounter only his justice.

May God help us so that, following the example of the martyrs, we may be faithful to him until the end!

Beatriz Silva de Lapuerta – Enraizados Collaborator