paul sierra lopez (Madrid, 1972) is parish priest from Gerindote (Toledo), with a degree in Ecclesiastical Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology and a Master’s in Philosophy. He has taught both Catholic Religion and Philosophy classes in various centers in Toledo. He is also a member of writers.net.
recently posted The roots of our faith. Spirituality and holiness in Visigothic Spain (Edibesa), where we can find brief portraits of various Visigothic saints and, finally, some texts and prayers from the time that can be food for our inner life.
-What have been the greatest contributions of Visigothic spirituality to the Catholic faith in Spain?
-Although we can rightly speak of diverse spiritualities according to times or religious families, it is no less true that there are a single spirituality that is life in Christ animated by the Holy Spirit. From that foundation we find accents and underlining that make us grow until we reach fullness in the love that is holiness.
‘The roots of our faith. Spirituality and holiness in Visigothic Spain’by Pablo Sierra Lopez.
»Although it is the second part of the book, the overview of the visigothic saints It has been the beginning of this adventure. First I approached the figure of st julian, head of the Toledo parish where he was posted, and I prepared a novel biography. Later, already in confinement, being in the parish of Santa María de Majadahonda, I did the same with Saint Eugene, who had been Julian’s teacher. And as the weeks of confinement prolonged, I continued reading and writing about all these saints and selecting fragments of his writings, which will be published later, God willing. In the blog that I publish in infocatholic I am writing about this time in our history so unknown.
-What can we recover today from his legacy?
-In the light of the lives of the saints, some features of the spiritual life, important for them then and for us today, were illuminated:
• the conversion as the beginning of the Christian life;
• the importance of one’s own training on the path of continuous conversion and the formation of others in the process of transmitting the faith, understanding formation not only as the transmission of knowledge but as forming the image of Christ in us;
• the meaning of our life as consecrationof which the life in the monasteries is a testimony, so important in the Visigothic era;
• the liturgy as expression and nourishment for the spirituality of the People of God;
• and the example of the Saintswith the Virgin and the martyrs in the first place, who help and encourage us on our way towards the same holiness in new ways.
»I do not pretend to be exhaustive… Surely when approaching the Christian life of this time, other interesting and stimulating aspects can also be discovered.
»Yes, I dare to support the hypothesis that Christians mozarabic they kept their faith in the hostile environment of Muslim rule thanks to the deep and strong roots of Christian life of their Visigothic ancestors.
Pablo Sierra López, priest of the Archdiocese of Toledo.
-How did the conversion of King Recaredo to Catholicism take place in 589 with the III Council of Toledo?
-Both in this book and in the treatises on the History of the Church, the situation of tension in the society of the time due to the fusion of Visigoths and Hispano-Romans can be found more or less extensively. While the former professed the arian christianity (4th century heresy), the latter were catholic christians who professed the Nicene Creed. There were moments of tolerance and freedom, but also of tension and certain persecution as seen in the life of Saint Mason of Merida or of Saint Leander.
»The war between Leovigildo and his son hermenegildo It was also marked by the Arianism of the father and the Catholicism of the son, who died in prison and is venerated as a holy martyr. Later, when he came to the throne reccared Catholic unity occurred in the Toledo Council of the year 589, although his conversion and entry into the Church is earlier.
‘The conversion of Recaredo’ (1888), an oil painting by Antonio Muñoz Degrain that is preserved in the Spanish Senate.
-How did the Church influence or control the Visigothic power or contribute to the harmony between factions of nobles with conflicting interests?
-Through the life of the holy Visigothic bishops we can discover in the book how different their society was from ours. There was no separation between the State and the Church as we understand it today. That is why religious unity was so important, which Leovigildo attempted in Arianism and Recaredo achieved in Catholicism. Kings and nobles intervened in religious life by calling councils, naming bishops, demanding collaboration, etc., and bishops and councils issued laws for the Kingdom, crowned kings, judged conflicts, imposed penalties, etc.
»Of course there were problems and abuses, but also there were abundant fruits of that Christianization and humanization of political power. I think it is important not to judge history from our mentality…
-What was the cause of the internal crisis of the Visigothic monarchy, the moral decadence and weakness of its people, army and politics as well, and how did the prominent figures in your book contribute to delaying or avoiding it?
-It is up to historians to answer these questions… I have approached from the field of spirituality and hagiography to find food for the soul… I don’t think there are simple explanations for such complex events. such as the fall of kingdoms or civilizations, but there would be a multitude of factors, such as the rise of Islam, power struggles, the fragility of the Visigothic elective monarchy, tensions between the nobles, the intrigues of small social groups, etc. .
»The saints that we present in the book and so many anonymous Christians of that time surely put their efforts at the service of both the earthly and the eternal city. The fruit of their lives is not measured in social or military successes, but in Eternal glory. Saint Julian of Toledo died only twenty-one years before the Muslim army defeated the king Don Rodrigowho was in civil war with the descendants of his predecessor Witiza… Well, this holy bishop had written his Prognosticon Futuri Saeculi Concerning the Eternal Truths of Our Faith, an important treatise on eschatologywhich teaches us not to fear death and to hope in the goods of Eternity.
«The Mozarabs maintained their faith during the Muslim domination thanks to their Visigothic roots»