The difficulty of dying without religion: the Church has appropriated almost half of the Spanish cemeteries | To live | Great Reports


On Gualda (Guadalajara) learned that the Church had appropriated their cemetery thanks to a couple of barbecues. The mayor had built a park with tables and grills next to the hermitage, and when the neighbors went to show it to the new parish priest, they were surprised: “The priest told them that this land was not owned by the town hall. We went to the land registry and we verified that the cemetery and two hermitages had indeed been registered”, Recalls María Ángeles Remón, who was mayor of the town between 2007 and 2014.

From there a legal battle began among a municipality that did not reach 80 inhabitants and the Church, personified in the Bishopric of Sigüenza. The town lost, and the neighbors had to bear the costs of the trial. 6,000 euros that they paid in installments.

Gualda’s is just one of the almost 2,500 cemeteries that were registered by the Church between 1998 and 2015, when the call was in effect Mortgage law of the government of José María Aznar. In Spain in 2006 there were 17,682 necropolises, of which the supposedly parochial ones represented 44.8%. Aznar’s law allowed the Church to take ownership of real estate that supposedly did not belong to anyone, and so on. almost 35,000 properties were registered, according to a report published by the Government in February 2021.

In the corralillo of the reds

Image of the grave of Almudena Grandes covered with flowers in the civil cemetery of Madrid, on Friday, December 3, 2021. / VR

In the civil cemetery of Madrid, the writer Almudena Grandes rests in a grave that is not even sensed under the enormous blanket of flowers. “I had never seen a grave like this in this cemetery,” expresses between surprised and excited Paloma Contreras, president of the Funerarte Association. She knows this necropolis well because she made guided tours in this “red corralillo”, As the place where Illustrious figures such as La Pasionaria, Pablo Iglesias or Pío Baroja rest.

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The civil cemetery of Madrid It was inaugurated in 1884, but it is probable that many people found out about its existence just a few days ago regarding the funeral of Almudena Grandes. “It was not interesting that this place was known. During the Franco regime, in fact, standing in front of the door was already a crime ”, explains Contreras.

The history of civil cemeteries in SpainHowever, it dates back a hundred years. Juan G. Bedoya, a journalist from EL PAÍS explains it: “The dead were buried in churches and hermitages. When the plague arrives, the authorities see that this is a cause of contagion and they decide to remove the cemeteries outside the urban area ”.

For this purpose the first civil cemetery in Spain, that of the Royal Order of San Ildefonso, was born in 1783. It was built on the outskirts of town, as the Carlos III ordinance established, and it was born with a sanitary but also ideological objective: the management of death no longer falls on the church, but on the State.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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