Monday, 3 March 2014

Fasting and abstinence in the Philippines: Part I

We shall not concern ourselves with the current legislations of fasting and abstinence binding upon all baptised Catholics—Filipino Catholics, in particular. Many authors have written clearly on this matter and we are happy to endorse this for enlightenment on the applicable practices in the Philippine Islands.

Fray Juan Ylla, a Dominican, then professor from the Faculty of Canon Law in the Royal and Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Manila, divided the religious dietary history of the Philippine Church into three epochs: (1) the Spanish period; (2) the intermediate period; and (3) the modern period. We shall not yet enter into these epochs in this post, but on a lesser subject yet equally fascinating to Filipino Traditional Catholics: the Crusade Bulls.

The Crusade Bulls

The Crusade Bulls or Bulls of the Holy Crusade (in Spanish, bulas de la Santa Cruzada; in Latin, bullae Sacratae Cruciatae) were a set of papal documents granting privileges upon Iberians, exempting them from the precept of fasting and abstinence if they contribute financially to the causes of the Holy Crusade, and pray for the causes of the same. Often, when we hear of the term Holy Crusade, we immediately call to mind the battles fought for the recovery of Jerusalem from the Saracens. The Holy Crusade here referred to is an obscure but equally important (and, more importantly, successful) one: the Crusade launched by the Christian princes of Iberia against the Muslims who occupied the southern half of Spain. This Crusade ended the persecution of Mozarabic Christians in the regions ruled by Muslims.

Pope Blessed Urban II

The first Crusade Bull pertinent to Spain was given by Blessed Urban II on 1 July 1089 to Count Raymond Berengar II of Barcelona, Count Armengald IV of Urgell, and Count Bernard II of Besalú, and to all bishops, viscounts, potentates, barons, nobles, knights, and clergy of Barcelona and Tarragona, granting plenary indulgence to all those who would assist in the reconquest of Tarragona. On 10 December 1118, Gelasius II acceded to the request of King Alphonsus I of Aragón, granting spiritual favours to those who would participate in the reconquest of Zaragoza, in the form of a plenary indulgence. On 4 April 1122, Callistus II sent a bull to all bishops and Christian princes to aid the kings of Spain in their crusade against the Muslims of Iberia. This was made possible through the efforts of Saint Ollegar, archbishop of Tarragona, whose feast day was kept in the Philippine Church on 6 March, who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the same year the bull was sent.

El Triunfo de la Santa Cruz
Marceliano Santa María Sedano

Count Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona completed the reconquest of Tortosa in 1148 and thereupon asked Eugene III to consider it a Crusade, which request the pope granted on 22 June 1148, decorating it with indulgences. The next bull came out before the miraculous victory obtained by King Alphonsus VIII of Navarra in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa on 16 July 1212, the same victory which is celebrated in the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, proper to Spain and her former colonies, kept in the liturgical calendar of the Philippines on 16 July (necessitating the transfer of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to 21 July). The reconquest was preceded by solemn rogations in Rome, led by Innocent III on 23 May 1212, days before which, he sent a letter to the king, granting him the spiritual favours he asked of the pope through his ambassador in Rome.

La rendición de Granada
Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz

Over the next centuries, bulls for the spiritual benefit of those who directly (through fighting) and indirectly (through almsgiving) contribute to the causes of the Holy Crusade in Spain were issued by the Holy See. When the Muslim empire in Iberia had crumbled to dust, after Granada capitulated on 2 January 1492 (an enterprise graced by Bulls continually renewed since the time of Callistus III in 1455; to that of Pius II in 1458; to that of Sixtus IV in 1478, 1479, 1481 and 1482; and finally, to that of Innocent VIII on 30 January 1485), the object of the Crusade shifted from combatting the Islamisation of Iberia, to fighting the tides of heresy and faithlessness.

Fernando II de Aragón y Isabel I de Castilla

Around the Crusade Bulls grew a stable institution for their proper administration, more correctly the management of the so-called three graces of (1) the crusade, (2) the subsidy (whereby lands and rents proper to the Church were taxed in order to financially support the crusades, a grace first granted by Pius IV on 26 April 1561) and (3) the excuse (whereby the most tithing house of a parish was excused from sending the collections to the Church, and instead directed them to the king to finance the fight against heresy, a grace granted by Paul V on 15 July 1567). These graces were conceded in the 16th century, around which time the Council of the Crusade (in Spanish, Consejo de la Cruzada) came to being, in the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castille and of King Ferdinand II of Aragón, its first commissary being the bishop of Palencia, Don Francisco de Mendoza.

King Ferdinand VI suppressed the Council of the Crusade by decree on 8 June 1750 and established in its place the General Directorate and Accountancy of the Three Graces of the Crusade, Subsidy and Excuse (in Spanish, Dirección y Contaduría General de las tres Gracias de la Cruzada, Subsidio y Excusado), which four years later, on 27 November 1574, became known as the General Commissariat of the Crusade (in Spanish, Comisaría General de la Cruzada). After the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Juan Álvarez Mendizábal (in Spanish, Desamortización de Mendizábal, decreed on 19 February and 8 March 1836), whereby most of the properties of the Church were expropriated and auctioned intemperately, and the promulgation of the Law of Endowment of Worship and the Clergy (in Spanish, ley de dotación del culto y clero) on 23 February 1845, the Commissariat was definitively suppressed by royal decree on 6 April 1851, its functions, as per the Concordat signed between Spain and the Holy See on 16 March 1851, devolved to each diocese, with the Primate of Spain styling himself as the General Commissary of the Crusade.

Monasterio [de San Millán de la Cogolla] de Yuso
(Lower Monastery of Saint Aemilian of the Cowl)
A casualty of the Confiscations; later repatriated to the Church

Thus began the inglorious demise of the glorious institution of the Crusade Bulls in Spain. A century later, the Crusade Bulls themselves would lose their vigour, with the promulgation of the bull Paenitemini on 17 February 1966 by Paul VI, uniformising the exercise of fasting and abstinence throughout the Church, abrogating other previous practices with a relative of the oft-quoted Latin phrase that had made itself the enemy of variety (contrariis quibuscumque non obstantibus):
Nostra haec statuta et praescripta nunc et in posterum firma et efficacia esse et fore volumis, non obstantibus, quatenus opus sit, Constitutionibus et Ordinationibus Apostolicis a Nostris Decessoribus editis, ceterisque praescriptionibus etiam peculiari mentione et derogatione dignis.
Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

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