MADRID (AP) — The Vatican on Sunday beatified 522 people — mostly priests and nuns — who were killed in the turmoil that led to Spain's civil war.
The beatification, the last step the Roman Catholic church takes before declaring sainthood, was conducted by Cardinal Angelo Amato in an outdoor ceremony attended by thousands in the northeastern Tarragona region. Pope Francis gave a brief address via a teleconference link to the congregation, which included almost 4,000 relatives of those being beatified.
So far, the church has beatified in several similar events more than 1,500 people killed during Spain's worst period of internecine strife in the 20th century. In the 1930s, Spain was engulfed in instability that saw the head of state, King Alfonso XIII, abandon the country and anti-clerical mobs attack clergy and burn churches.
The mayhem culminated in a 1936-1939 war, won by forces allied to Nazi Germany and fascist Italy and led by Gen. Francisco Franco.