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A. The preparatory atmosphere

To view in the correct context the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela of August 1948, one should go back to the Second National Congress of the Young People of Spanish Catholic Action, which was held in 1932. At the feet of Our Lady of El Pilar, in the closing ceremony, an undertaking was made public to organise a third congress, this time in Santiago de Compostela in 1937. During the preparations for the said Congress, the National Council came up with the idea of organising simultaneously a great pilgrimage to Santiago by young Spaniards and Latin Americans. They obtain all the necessary permits from the Hierarchy and, also, the Holy Father Pius XI entrusts them to train leaders in all dioceses. They return to Spain ready to work, start two magazines to promote the pilgrimage and set about visiting the different Diocesan Councils[61].

The National Uprising of the 18th July 1936 and the ensuing civil war made the pilgrimage initiative unfeasible. But once peace returns in 1941, they re-launch the idea of going on pilgrimage to Santiago. The slogan: "100,000 young people to Santiago!" In order to prepare qualitatively and also to achieve the announced number of attendants, Cursillos for Advanced Pilgrims were held in all dioceses, and Cursillos for Pilgrim Leaders in all parishes[62]. The pilgrimage was made in August 1948, and more than 70,000 pilgrims attended, thus becoming the most relevant religious event of the year in Spain.

One could highlight the event of the pilgrimage to Santiago, or even comment in detail on the diary of those 700 Majorcan pilgrims, but I think that this pilgrimage, as "leit motif" of the activities carried out in those years by the Majorcan youth, requires a more in-depth study which would later shed a strong light over our study of the Cursillo Movement.

The results that human beings obtain or achieve from their activities depends a great deal on the readiness with which these are carried out. Far more if it deals with the scope of the spirit. Readiness is very important, and to make oneself adequately available a genuine preparation is required. Young people went to Santiago from all the dioceses of our country; in all of them cursillos had been held in preparation for the pilgrimage; the structure of Catholic Action's youth division was homogeneous, ... but an ecclesiastical phenomenon like that of the Cursillo Movement only occurred in Majorca. It was without doubt within the aims of the providence of God, and obviously there was human collaboration.

In the previous section we analysed as recent history, some Cursillos given in preparation for the pilgrimage, commonly considered as the main practical consolidation of the said preparation. But I would like to highlight two more aspects on this matter which must be borne in mind and which are also important. Firstly, the fact that all the local ecclesiastic events of those years are set in a perspective of pilgrimage. Secondly, the importance - with regards to training - that some of the articles written in "Proa" by Fr. Sebastián Gayà had, together with the Pastoral which Mons. Hervàs addressed to the young people. That is how "the pilgrimage ideal and style", which will be such a characteristic aspect of this Movement, develops.

So as not to overdo ourselves, we shall concentrate on the last two school years prior to the pilgrimage.

Local pilgrimages.

The school programme for the year 1946-47 has three pillars of training: Spiritual Exercises, Intensive Training Courses and the School of Leaders, to which anyone wishing to do so can attend[63]. The editorial of "Proa" expresses a desire for all Catholics to consider themselves pilgrims and to understand the spiritual feeling of a pilgrimage. On the other hand, it refers to specific areas... such as the organisation and carrying out of local and county pilgrimages which, before culminating with the Lluch Diocesan Pilgrimage, will allow us to exercise and make known the spirit and style of our pilgrimage[64].

Soon the parish pilgrimages begin. The Santa Eugenia centre carries one out on the 6th October to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace. The following issue of "Proa" magazine reports on this[65] with the headline: The Majorcan Marian Pilgrimages have begun.

In May 1947, on the 17th and 18th, the district of Cura carried out its pilgrimage to Saint Mary of Cura. 302 pilgrims took part in the event[66].

The programme for the 1947-48 school year maintains the three pillars of training (Exercises, Cursillos and the School of Leaders) and instead of presenting a diocesan pilgrimage to Lluch, as was done in the previous school year, it announces a congress prior to the Pilgrimage to Santiago: All our activities, before attending the Santiago convocation, have to culminate with our 1st Congress of Young People in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lluch[67].

Spirits were going "in crescendo". The November issue of "Proa" magazine reports on another district pilgrimage. The districts of Manacor and Felanitx go on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of San Salvador. No less than 800 young people take part. In his final speech the bishop talks to them about the heart of gold, arm of iron, and soul of fire[68].

The Lluch Congress.

Finally the Lluch congress arrives[69] as a prelude to Santiago between the 24th and 25th of April 1948. 3000 young Majorcans participate there. On the night of the 24th they assemble in Inca's Main Square, and from there they travel by bus up to Caimari. There they are welcomed and greeted by the resident Priest, and the Diocesan Spiritual Director Fr Sebastián Gayà calls out his slogan for the day: "Keep watch and pray". They then depart on pilgrimage to Lluch. The march to the Sanctuary is urged along with a Via Crucis which the Spiritual Director imparts to them with vibrant words. In the morning there is a solemn Pontifical presided by his Lordship the Bishop. Following that, the consecration of the youth of Majorca to the Sacred Heart of Mary. Then would come the presentation of the pilgrims' staffs. The first person to receive it is the Bishop, from the hands of the Diocesan Spiritual Director.

Later came the "proclamation of ideals", an act in which deferential speeches are made and which the Bishop brings to a close. The Diocesan President, Eduardo Bonnín; the Secretary of the Superior Council and his Lordship the Bishop take part. From Eduardo's speech, one should emphasise his ardour and his conviction that Christian doctrine is a doctrine of victory and therefore one must tirelessly give himself up until Christ fills with life and gives a meaning to all young people. José María Castán in his address, highlights his remembrance of the dispatch for the pilgrims, received from the Holy Father Pius XII, and which is summarised as firm faith; purity for living in Christ; and spirit of conquest. From the Bishop's speech, one should emphasise the four needs he eloquently pointed out: the need for apostles, heroes, martyrs and saints.

Once again the retinue is assembled, this time setting off on the way back and carrying with it the image of Our Lady of Lluch, Queen of Majorca. They return to Caimari, and after lunch they bring the Congress to a close.

These local and district pilgrimages that culminate with the Congress of Lluch have a great importance as exponents of the climate being lived in Majorca, and as a prelude to the Cursillos in Christianity. They pave the way for the pilgrimage to Santiago, which would not have had the attendance, the impact, nor the importance it had, without the aforementioned events. From this perspective it took much work to produce such outstanding results.

Diocesan Assemblies.

Within the Majorcan young people's ecclesiastic events marked by the pilgrimage, we shall also examine the last three Diocesan Assemblies of the young people's Catholic Action of Majorca.

The VII Diocesan Assembly takes place on the 17th and 18th November 1945. The report which appears in the Official Bulletin of the Bishopric of Majorca[70] highlights the presence of José María Mohedano, who was at the time National President of the Young People of Catholic Action. The closing ceremony -held in the Assembly Hall of Palma City Council- was presided by the Commander in Chief of the Balearic Islands; the Canon Archdeacon in representation of the Bishop; the Provincial Council's Vice-President representing the Governor; the Treasury's Provincial Delegate; the Governor General; Canon J. Espases in representation of the Chapter; the Director of the "Ramón Llull" Institute; the Diocesan Spiritual Director; the National President and the Diocesan President.

In this assembly, the 1944-45 school year is reviewed, and the plan for the next year is set out, including a discussion by those attending. The batches of spiritual exercises and the various cursillos are highlighted. The fourth conclusion affirms that there will be a move by the Diocesan Council towards creating the School of Leaders.

The lessons given dealt with the Young Person in Catholic Action, his aesthetic profile, his formation.

We find one specific mention of the pilgrimage to Santiago in this report, where it mentions that Eduardo Bonnín, Diocesan President, concludes his speech by targetting the ideals on Santiago as the immediate object of the school years to follow. One must consider, to a lesser extent, the fact that, after visiting the elderly Prelate to declare his support, there is another meeting to, amongst other things, present the certificates of the 3rd Cursillo for Advanced Pilgrims. The report finishes thus: To Santiago! Via St Mary of Lluch![71].

Two details should be noted from this report which reflect the Assembly of November 1945. Firstly, the little incidence that the theme "Santiago" still has at the time. Of course, it is noted that the advertised Cursillos will be held in preparation for the pilgrimage, but little support is still detected. Secondly, the typical presence of "authorities", something common at the time, but which proves to be a little startling in an act for young people, unless it can be partly explained by the fact that they are held in the Town Hall.

The 7th Diocesan Assembly bears a very different style, just as there is a great change in the reviews and the news of it which we come across in the magazine[72]. It is held between the 10th and 11th of May 1947. Monsignor Hervàs chairs the opening ceremony and he will preside the closing ceremony. The report on the year 1945-46, during which 12 sets of exercises and 5 Cursillos were held, is read out. The programme for the coming year is set out. At 5 p.m. on Sunday the 10th, they receive the visit of Archbishop Miralles. The School of Leaders is formally opened.

Two Speeches are made in this Assembly: Marginal Works and How to Get to Santiago in a Holy Way.

At the Forefront! was the headline that summarised the Assembly. In his opening words the Bishop had exhorted everyone to pray and work. To pray with great hope and work with self-denial. Both things with victory in mind. His closing speech can be summarised in one wish: we want young people of quality, with a solid formation and an intense spiritual life.

The conclusions of this Diocesan Assembly were processed in two different blocks, given the diversity the contents had between both speeches. From the first - which refers to the matter which we are dealing with - the title already said it all. The conclusion was that to get to Santiago in a holy way one must feel the excitement and delight of living in grace and ardently loving Jesus Christ. That is why it is necessary to intensify piety personally and collectively amongst all the leaders, to be able to carry the others along. May the centres become a forge of apostles and may the Diocesan Council's plan - Cursillos, Exercises... - be fully realised.

We could also point out two details here: in the first place the leading role that the Bishop has both in the Assembly and the reports on it. To highlight the importance that he attaches to his young people, he even attends the opening ceremony, which is something uncommon. In the closing ceremony he goes at length in his speech. He excites with his presence and nourishes with his speech. Secondly, the leading role that the pilgrimage to Santiago has in the Assembly's development and contents. There is no need to repeat the title of the first lesson.

Finally, to give evidence on how the style has changed. The previous assembly and their reports resemble more the typical ones of the 1940's. In this one we detect a different, renewed, more jovial style. One that is basically more ecclesiastic and independent, without the presence of civil and military authorities.

The 9th Diocean Assembly takes place on the 31st January and 1st February 1948[73]. On the afternoon of the 31st Mons. Hervàs turns up to bless the image of the Virgin of Lluch, which will go to Santiago with the pilgrims, and also to read a declaration of the Primate Cardinal summoning the Latin American youth in Santiago to be at the forefront of Christianity. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to turn the Majorcan youth into a youth that lives in grace.

Three speeches are imparted, dealing with the way the centres work; those minorities which are to work within them and the third regarding the Lluch Congress. For the closing ceremony they visit the Tabernacle and pray the "Apostolic Hour", a long prayer which together with others, the Diocesan Council published in a booklet titled The Pilgrim's Guide.

Having read the report on the previous year and different speeches, one must highlight those of the Diocesan Spiritual Director and the Diocesan Chairman who pronounces the year's slogan: On the way! The Bishop hands over to some members of the School of Leaders a list of piety, study and action undertakings, popularly known as Christ relies on you.

The Assembly concludes with the Bishop's speech. According to him, we need apostles to be a vanguard of Christianity, that is, to instill in society the Gospel's authentic spirit. The Holy Father wants brave, believing, lively, holy young people who are full of love for Jesus Christ; and upbeat and dedicated; trusting God fully.

Mons. Hervàs has left his young people's spirits more than inflamed. In the midst of the general euphoria, they accompany the Bishop through the streets of Palma up to the episcopal palace amidst chants and acclamations. They finish before the Tabernacle of the bishopric's chapel. To round off the celebrations, the Bishop announced that he shall join them in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Many details can be highlighted from this Assembly. The Bishop's is dynamically present at the beginning to read the primate's declaration and to bless the image of the Virgin of Lluch, and at the end to bring it to a close, echoing the words and wishes of the Holy Father and inflaming the atmosphere. The atmosphere grows in crescendo with great intensity and rhythm and it youthfully bursts with happiness through the city streets with a young Bishop, surrounded by a certainly unusual cortége. The Assembly's slogan expresses the imminence of the event which has been giving meaning to their dreams and work.

I wish to mention two details of the report, discreet but significant for the future. The Council has published a booklet titled The Pilgrim's Guide, which is made known to the public in that Assembly, according to the report. The booklet's title says it all, it is the pilgrim's spiritual guide. This booklet is the typical prayer book that the cursillistas have, and which is still handed over to everyone who attends a Cursillo today. Nowadays, and it has always been so in the Cursillos, they are also given a commitment card based on the three aspects of piety, study and action, a continuation of the Christ Relies On You that the Bishop gave to members of the School of Leaders in this Assembly.

B. Ideological Preparation

The Pilgrimages, the Assemblies and the Lluch Congress were acts that inflamed spirits, that lit up hearts, that strengthened wills.

On the other hand the Exercises, Cursillos and Retreats nourished the spirit and the mind, as well as the School of Leaders. In the previous section we have analyzed the Cursillos for Advanced Pilgrims and Pilgrim Leaders, and we saw in them the preceding stages of the Cursillo Movement. I would also emphasize two other realities which nourished and gave a doctrinal content to the preparation for the pilgrimage. Firstly, a series of articles appearing in Proa" under the title Stages of a Pilgrimage, signed by Fr. Sebastián Gayà, and secondly, the Pastoral Letter which Monsignor Hervàs addresses to the young Majorcans of Catholic Action on the occasion of the pilgrimage.

Curiously, both elements indicate, in my opinion, key moments within the preparation for Santiago. Stages of a Pilgrimage is published monthly from December '45 to June '46. Following the summer break, there are three more consecutive issues from October to December '46. One should note that the 7th Diocesan Assembly, according to our analysis, had barely had a Compostelan colour. We are in November 1945. The 8th Diocesan Assembly (May 1947) has a very different style and a far sharper taste of pilgrimage. In between these Stages of a Pilgrimage a serious and thorough training was carried out.

As a preamble to the first stage, there is an explanatory note: Pursuant to the activity plan mentioned under the heading "Study", approved in this school year's Assembly, we begin in this issue a series of articles under the title "Stages of a Pilgrimage", on the subject of "grace and charity" that looks toward Santiago point of view. The articles will come divided into headings or parts, so they may serve as norms and guidelines, if seen fit, for the month's study meetings. The Rev. Fr. Sebastián Gayà, has taken up the drafting of the document[74].

The Pastoral Letter from Mons. Hervàs appears in "Proa"[75], in the issue for April 1948, the same month in which the Lluch Congress takes place. Continuing with the athletic jargon, I believe that it is possible to define it as the final sprint of doctrinal preparation. It also has a note which explains that it will be read out in the study groups of the young people of Catholic Action, and also in those of all the other youth Associations.

We shall now try to summarize the doctrine contained in both places.

Sebastián Gayà's Articles.

The seven articles which appear as Stages of a Pilgrimage in the '46-'47 school year, from December to June, deal with grace; the sacraments; prayer; sin; Christ and Mary; the meaning of life; and finally, the Church. A small and substantial compendium of Christian life.

The first "stage" begins in December 1945: Pilgrims, Forward! We are travellers, beings on the way to eternity, and we walk by faith. God is the goal. There is no need to be enraptured on the way. The attractions found on the way, far from being a hindrance, are to be a stimulus to reach the goal: God.

One must arrive holy. Because God is holy and he calls us to holiness. The spiritual and deep sense of the pilgrimage is sanctity. The Pilgrimage to Santiago is a stimulus within the pilgrimage to God by holy ways[76].

The second stage deals with the life of the pilgrim, the pilgrim's grace. Holiness is to do God's will, being docile to the Spirit within the Church. Holiness consists of living life from the grace which God conveys. This is impossible for man. But is made possible by laying one's foundations in Christ, by being revitalized by him into His church, through grace. Only with it can I be a pilgrim of holiness.

Grace is the greatest gift. A supernatural, permanent gift, which by virtue of Christ's merits, God instills and by which God is instilled in the soul for the eternal salvation of man. Its effects are justification, divine relationship, intervention in divine nature, being temples of the Holy Spirit and heirs of God[77].

The third stage presents the sacraments to us as a fountain in the desert of the pilgrim's life. The sacraments are sources of the grace which is deserved by Christ and received within the Church. They are perceptible signs established by Christ, to give a meaning to grace and to convey it. Sacraments "for the living" and "for the dead". They all confer, together with sanctifying grace, sacramental grace. Three of them imprint character.

The Eucharist is the most sublime of all. It nourishes and revitalizes the pilgrim, it gives him spiritual vigour, wisdom from maturity, an agility to continue towards the summit. ¡Not a day without it![78]

In the fourth stage we find another element which is indispensable for the pilgrim, prayer, which becomes the staff, compass and guide. The compass which guides us is prayer. The staff which we hold on to in difficult moments is our contact with the Lord. A loving dialogue with God.

We need both oral prayer and meditation to glorify and thank Him, and to ask for His intercession. We also need to beg for His pardon. We must use intercessory prayers, since the Lord has told us to ask and so we shall receive. There lies the source of optimism, guaranteed triumph, the source of happiness[79].

To trust in prayer and to trust in God blindly, but never to rest on our laurels, because we could trip and and fall into the "potholes" found in the way, that is to say, into sin[80].

Grace does not destroy nature, but boosts it, exalts it, gives it God-like airs. Grace transforms us. One must see the death of the old man and see the birth of the new one. The antithesis of grace is sin. It is the pothole that halts us on our way and keeps us from following our way. Everything human which is not sin is compatible with grace.

Pilgrimage does not work anarchically, but within an order, that is why the sixth stage studies the Head of pilgrimage in depth. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. The vital principle which brings us together and inspires us is the grace of Christ which conveys us the Holy Spirit. The Head of the Mystic Body is Christ. He directs the whole Body and the life of the Body derives from him.

We are all called to be members of the Holy Church, that is why we are called to the pilgrimage of holiness. Those who live in grace receive the life of Christ. Mary is the principal member. She gave us Christ. Giver of all grace and Mother of pilgrims[81].

The last stage of this school year, the seventh, shows us how the Life of the Pilgrim is, a family life, a life within the church[82]. The members of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, must live for themselves, for the others and for the Body as a whole.

To live for oneself is to live life itself. Christ is the source of life. To live for oneself is, therefore, to introduce Christ to oneself, to be filled by him.

To live for the other members. To live in community and communication of life within the Mystical Body.

To live for the Mystical Body. The Church must grow in quality and quantity. To live for the Church is to feel with it, to work with it, to give oneself up to it.

The school year 1946-47 gets an impulse from three more stages. The first is an update of the pilgrim spirit at the start of the year. The second gives advice to all, and the third, becomes to be an exhaustive plan for Christian life.

Following the summer break, the pilgrim spirit has to be updated. The October "stage" is titled "another one!" We find ourselves before a new school year. One must take hold again of the drinking shell and the pilgrim's staff, and set off on the way to Santiago. To Santiago, in a holy way. It is necessary to lift up the spirits for a bigger and better stage[83].

Salt, spur, light and breath is the title of the stage for November. It is a warning for those who do not walk at a pilgrim's pace.

A warning for those without wings, those with broken wings, those with ravaged tastes and those who crawl at ground level. A warning for those who lag behind. They are in soporific sleep. They are young people who are old. A warning for the discouraged ones, who are incapable of sacrificing themselves. They began to walk their way, but were stopped in their paths by the difficulties they encountered. A warning for the absent-minded, those that are confused who remain beside the road without knowing which direction to take[84].

The tenth stage is a life plan for the pilgrim who sets himself a goal and the ways of reaching it, it is the Itinerary for the Pilgrim of Christ. We offer an abridged extract:[85]

The supreme goal: to be a real apostle. To be the salt, the light, the ferment, the guide. The mission is to conquer.

The ways to reach the goal: piety, study and action.



to preserve and defend Christ in me through watchfulness, fighting and prayer.

To develop Christ in my soul by the sacraments, study and the practice of virtues.



to know the personal Christ and the mystical Christ,

to leave aside unhealthy and useless literature- and to reflect those teachings in my life.



to imprint Christ into the souls of the young people.

Conquering technique: three cooperations: that of God, the apostle and the subject.

Arms: human virtues, prayer, the cross, bold but sound judgement.


The Pastoral of Bishop Hervàs.

The Pastoral Letter[86] of Monsignor Hervàs is addressed to the young people of Majorca and can be summarised by saying that it is an exhortation to go on pilgrimage to Santiago in a holy way, living a life of grace, sharing a feeling with the Church in order to return to life the meaning of pilgrimage.

The Bishop exhorts his young people to reply generously to the Primate's invitation by visiting the sepulchre of St James the Apostle within the Compostelan Holy Year, and not in any way as the slogan is this one: To Santiago, in a holy way! In a holy way, that is to say, living a life of grace, incorporating Jesus Christ into the Holy Spirit. Holy, that is, ready to defend in a fight to death, against this sinful world which devours our youth, and the life of the soul, which is the only real victim[87].

Besides living a life of grace, the fact that one participates in the pilgrimage together with receiving the Holy Year’s own graces, shows that one shares his or her feelings with the Church, something very important at this time because many people are losing it.

All this must serve to bring back the feeling of pilgrimage to one's life, in the most genuinely Christian sense. Materialists seek a perfect happiness in this life, denying the meaning and importance of pilgrimage. A Christian on the other hand, knows that his definitive dwelling is not here, and is always on the road to his celestial mother country, where he will find the ultimate goal of his pilgrimage.

In Mary's name and consecrated to her. He ends the Pastoral Letter with a phrase which is logical for closing a text like this one, but seeing this in perspective after many years we cannot deny him a certain prophetic vision. Walk on, Pilgrims, may these be like spiritual manoeuvres for warming up one's spirits and having them ready for future undertakings in the name of the Lord[88].

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[61] Cf. C. Gil, op cit., p. 550.

[62] Cf. C. Gil, p. 550.

[63] Cf. Proa no 94, of September 1946, p. 1.

[64] Proa no 94, of September 1946, p. 1.

[65] Proa no 95, of October 1946, p. 3.

[66] Cf. Proa no 104, of July 1947, pp. 1 and 3.

[67] Proa no 106, of September 1947, p. 1.

[68] Proa no 108, of November 1947, p.3.

[69] Cf. Proa no 114, of May 1948, pp. 1-8.

[70] Cf. Catholic Action, no 85, of December 1945, pp. 1-2. This is the name of the supplement of the Official Bulletin of the Bishopric of Majorca that immediately after was called Proa. 

[71] Ibid., p. 2.

[72] Cf. Proa no 102, 103 and 104, corresponding ones to May, June and July of 1947.

[73] Cf. Proa no 111, of February 1948, pp. 1-6.

[74] "Catholic Action", no 85, of December 1945, p. 5.

[75] Cf. Proa no 113, of April 1948, pp. 2-3.

[76] Cf. Catholic Action, no 85, of December 1945, p. 5.

[77] Cf. Proa no 86, January of 1946.

[78] Cf. Proa no 87, of February 1946, pp. 3-4.

[79] Cf. Proa no 88, of March 1946, pp. 3-4.

[80] Cf. Proa no 89, of April 1946. This reference is without page number because I do not have this number of the original magazine, but a typewritten transcription of the main points of this number, contained in the personal collection of Sebastián Gayà.

[81] Cf. Proa no 90, of May 1946, pp. 3-4.

[82] Cf. Proa no 91, of June 1946, pp. 3-4.

[83] Cf. Proa no 95, of October 1946, p. 4.

[84] Cf. Proa no 96, of November 1946, p. 4.

[85] Cf. Proa no 97, of December 1946, p. 4.

[86] Proa no 113, of April 1948. Diptych without page numbers accompanying the magazine.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Ibid.

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