Appendix A: Exhaustive historical investigation and the beginning of the canonisation process.

In 1958 investigators based in the Diocese of Valladolid began a comprehensive historical study of the life of Queen Isabel. Of particular concern were questions regarding Isabel’s right to succession of the throne; the legitimacy of her marriage; tension with Rome concerning ecclesial reformation; the expulsion of the Jews; the conquest and subjection of other people. The commission examined over 100,000 documents from archives in Spain, the Vatican etc., selected and critically analyzed about 3,500 and compiled a 27-volume corpus of their findings. Their scrupulous investigation did not uncover one single act, public or private, of Queen Isabel that was not inspired by Christian and evangelical criteria.

When this work was completed the Archbishop formed a Tribunal which convened for 80 sessions in 1971-72 in which 39 witnesses were examined, as well as further witnesses overseas. The acts of the Tribunal form two thick volumes of 750 and 284 legal-size pages.

All of the above work was submitted to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and on 18th November 1972 the Apostolic Process was opened. Following 18 more years of exhaustive critical analysis a final report (the “Positio”) was produced, supported by 150 qualified witnesses (university professors, historical biographers, politicians, Churchmen etc) and quoting 472 authors. The index of names alone refers to 2,490 people related in some way to Queen Isabel.

In all canonisation processes, the study of the “Historical Positio” is carried out by three successive bodies: the Historical Commission; the Theological Commission; and the Congregation of Prelates and Cardinals. For the first of these, under the direction of the Relator General of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, six consultors discussed, and finally on 6th November 1990 approved, the historical aspects of the Positio as authentic, complete and a good foundation to judge the virtues and fame of sanctity of Servant of God Queen Isabel. The Positio was then due to be examined by the Theological Commission, but it was at this stage, in 1991, that the process was halted. This interruption was not for any internal reason in the process or any discovery about Queen Isabel but on account of sensitivity to well-organised and expressive protests of those hostile to Queen Isabel.

Appendix B: The Spanish Inquisition

Academic research carried out since the 1970s has overturned the myth of the Spanish Inquisition as cruel and bloodthirsty. Norman Cantor writes, “The Courts of the inquisition used the characteristic features of Roman criminal law…the inquisitions were not eager to use capital punishment but rather to persuade and frighten suspected deviants back into the Church. The defendant had to be recalcitrant or a triple recidivist to end up being ‘turned over to the secular arm,’ that is, the state.”[i]

According to Raphael Molisend, a Protestant historian, Henry VIII executed tens of thousands of his subjects. His daughter Elizabeth I in very few years, also in the name of a ‘reformed’ Christianity, caused more victims than the Spanish and Roman Inquisitions together in three centuries.[ii] Norman Cantor again writes, “[H]istorians estimate that between two thousand and four thousand crypto-Jews were executed by the Spanish Inquisition between 1480-1520 [or an annual rate of 50-100], and very few thereafter. As these figures indicate, most of the New Christians were sincere converts or at least behaved as conventional Christians and both the paranoid claims of some inquisitors and the myths propagated by modern Jewish historians that most Jewish converts were actually crypto-Jews were fanciful…Indeed not only were the great majority of Jewish converts sincere, but from among learned and aristocratic new Christian families came some of the greatest names in early sixteenth-century Spanish ecclesiastical and cultural history.”[iii]

Appendix C: Objections to Queen Isabel’s Canonisation

- Questions related to Isabel’s succession, her marriage etc. have been cleared by historical commission.

- Those who ask how a saint can be involved in war could note the canonizations of: St. Ferdinand; St. Catherine of Sienna (who campaigned ardently for a holy crusade); St. Joan of Arc who led an army; St. Louis IX who led a crusade to the Holy Land (incidentally, he expelled the Jews from France); the Popes who called for crusades, for example Popes Eugene IV, Pius II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. Isabel justly defended her people’s land.

- To condemn the Queen for allowing capital punishment is to reveal our own lack of tolerance for we would thus write off almost all of her contemporaries. Even today capital punishment is still accepted as a valid measure for national security, although it is becoming less so.

- Only Jesus and the Blessed Mother have lived lives of total perfection. Isabel might have made mistakes as all people do. She also made political judgements which other Christians can disagree with. But to be a saint does not mean to have had an immaculate life.

“But the hand of God is with her, she who comes with the burning desire of establishing order with the most equitable justice, without favouring persons or dignitaries, starting with those around her and being inexorable with everyone.” – Discalced Carmelite, 20th Century

[i] Ibid. p.177

[ii] See “Why Apologise for the Spanish Inquisition” by Very Rev. Fr. Alphonsus M. Duran and Fr. Paul M. Vota (2000)

[iii] Cantor p.189

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