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August 26, 2014

Christ of the Good Death

Our rulers and betters, in their zeal to make us ever more post-Catholic-pluralist,
want to remove Christianity not only from the education system but also from the
country's armed forces. They don't like to see soldiers participating in public events
with  religious overtones—apart, that is, from State funerals.
I decided to investigate how we compare in this respect with one of our European 
neighbours: Spain.
A little exploration on the web brought me to El Cristo de la Buena Muerte,
(Christ of the Good Death) a military devotional practice which takes place every Holy
Thursday in Málaga. Sixteen burly soldiers from the elite Spanish Legion, (the equivalent
of the French Foreign Legion) process out of a church carrying on their shoulders a massive
crucifix with a very realistic (and gory) figure of Our Lord.
They parade round the square outside, doing a slow goose-step and singing a mournful
anthem called El Novio de la Muerte, which means, roughly “The Bridegroom of Death”. It's not
entirely appropriate to the occasion, being a celebration of human love as well as of courage 
and death. A cynic would call it a piece of mawkish militarism, but I find it strangely moving
and impressive.
Nadie en el Tercio sabía
quién era aquel legionario
tan audaz y temerario
que en la Legión se alistó.
Nadie sabía su historia,
más la Legión suponía
que un gran dolor le mordía
como un lobo el corazón.
(“No one in the regiment knew who that legionary was, so bold and daring, who had
enlisted in the Legion; no one knew his history, but the Legion guessed that a great
sorrow was gnawing like a wolf at his heart.”)
The choreography of this occasion is something to behold. Almost at the start, the 
legionary at the front of the cross gives three sharp taps on the wood, takes one more 
step, and taps once more. That is the signal for the men to raise the cross high above 
their heads, using one hand, and continue marching. After a dozen or so more steps, 
there is another tap and they drop the cross back on to their shoulders. Other commands
are given by a shrill blast on a bugle. When the team have to wheel to the left, the men
on the inside have to stop marching forwards and take several paces sideways to their right,
 while those on the outside lengthen their pace and keep advancing leftwards. You can see 
how they do it by Googling El Novio de la Muerte.
The original crucifix dated back to the 17th century but was smashed up by a socialist mob
in 1931 and had to be replaced.
I may return to this subject in our next post.
`Conservative` a misnomer
The conservative majorities have not conserved anything. Gradually they have delivered 
everything and have themselves been delivered over to the violent minorities that they 
have seemed to combat, but to which, in reality, they have submitted. 
Louis Veuillot (1813-1883)


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