It's actually our second conference in as many months because a few weeks ago we were privileged to set up the bookstall for a brilliant series of talks on Catholic Social Teaching and its practical implementation given by John Sharpe, the Managing Director of IHS Press.
Today, we'll be eagerly listening to instructive talks on subjects ranging from the Spanish Civil War to Hilaire Belloc to the Catholic family. And, of course, we'll be bringing a wide variety of books reflecting the themes of the conference.
Being reminded of the murderous Red and Anarchist Butchery and Terror in Spain this weekend seems Providential as it marks the annual Spanish (and Europe-wide) remembrance of 20th November which is the very day on which the two great Catholic Commanders of Spain's defensive war were called to their eternal rest, some 39 years apart.
Everyone knows the name of General Franco but few are familiar with Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange and the popular leader amongst multitudes of Spaniards of all classes. He was martyred in prison in 1936, aged 33, on the orders of the barely-disguised Communist government already then pursuing a bloody policy of persecution against the Church and Her faithful.
"It happened, by an amazing chance, that a fellow-prisoner was a priest, to whom José Antonio was allowed access that he might be shriven. At dawn on the 20th of November, he bade farewell to his brother and was taken out into a courtyard to be shot. Prophetically anticipating the future plenitude of the movement he created, he stood to face the rifles with two Falangists on one side and two Requetés on the other. He gave a lusty cry of Arriba España and kissed the crucifix in humility. A moment later his body was dead.
That body now lies in a tomb before the High Altar of the Basilica of The Escorial, to which it was conveyed by thousands of Spaniards who carried the coffin on foot from Alicante.
Franco has said:
Franco has said:
'Spaniards: José Antonio has died, the news-criers say! José Antonio lives, the Falange declares!
What is death and what is life?... Life is immortality... The seed that is not lost, but day after day is renewed with new vigour and freshness... This is the life, to-day, of José Antonio' ".