Philip II: a Book Review

Enormous accumulations of evil encircled the sixteenth century, making it one of the most disturbed in the history of Christendom. The enemies of the Holy Catholic Church had been tearing at her in bits and pieces, but it was not until the 1500′s that the throes of Satan seemed to combine in an all out effort aimed at her destruction. From within and without, the blows were unrelenting, and of such an intensity that only a divine Institution could have survived it. A hatred of Christ and His Mystical Body was the focal point for the beginning of a vast conspira­torial network of sinister intrigue that would plague the defenders of God and His Church from that century to the present. Thus it was that “one of the heaviest burdens that any mortal had ever been called upon to bear,”fell upon the shoulders of one man — Philip II, King of Spain.

Born May 21, 1527, Philip II descended from other heroic cham­pions of the Faith: St. Louis IX of France, St. Fernando III of Castile, and Isabella of Spain, the last crusader, who was Philip’s great-grand­mother. Thanks to Isabella, Spain, in Philip’s time, was a unified country — a strong and staunch defender of the Catholic Church. It was Philip’s lot to see the surrounding once-Catholic countries fall into heresy and rebellion and it is to his credit that Spain did not likewise crumble.

It must have seemed to Philip that the powers of hell were hurled at him. Indeed, they were. But his character, and above all his faith, withstood them. There wasn’t a time that someone was not betraying him or inciting rebellion.

A relatively frail man, his health was greatly weakened through disease. A devoted and loving son, husband, and father, his heart was broken no less than thirteen times by the death of loved ones. Trials that would crush the spirit of most men only seemed to strengthen his. For he was thoroughly Catholic, putting his trust in God rather than in men, and defending, in intention (even if not always in fact), the One True Church outside of which he knew, neither holiness nor salvation could be found.

William Thomas Walsh gives us the complete and accurate story of this good king who was one of the most maligned monarchs of Catholic Europe. We glimpse a noble man spending long hours at his desk regulating with careful deliberation the affairs of his people. Nearly always dressed in black (in remembrance of his deceased loved ones and as a reminder to himself of the folly of this world) we see Philip — perhaps too often proud and arrogant in ecclesial matters that were the pope’s responsibility — but likewise humble despite his exalted position. With his hat under arm he would often be seen accompanying a priest with the Blessed Sacrament on a sick call, and every year on Holy Thursday he would wash the feet of twelve beggars in imitation of Our Lord. Then, too,, we visualize Philip welcoming with reverent majesty the relics of some saint he has brought home to Spain or walking silently through his San Lorenzo del Escorial,the magnificent structure that he had erected “as a sort of history of the Church of Christ written in the bones of her Saints.” But never do we see the ruthless tyrant that modern “historians,” in perpetuation of the English “Black Legend,” misrepresent him as.

In this book, which can only be described as a masterpiece, William Thomas Walsh reveals a great modern conspiracy against the truth of history. With the patience of a scholar and the zeal of a Catholic, he traces with accuracy the attack on the Church and her defenders from enemies within and without. And he soundly refutes the distortions and outright lies that anti-Catholic anglophiles have passed off as history, a false and exaggerated story that is standard fare in American schools, public and Catholic. In an age when Catholics are so ignorant of the dangers facing the Church — within and without — Mr. Walsh’s book serves as an essential warning for us to wake up, unmask the enemies of Christ, and wage war on Satan’s minions, before it is too late.

Walsh points out that Spain, in the 1930s, was the one Catholic nation that had faced every major assault against the Church since the late Middle Ages and survived as a Catholic nation. This great country had to bear the full brunt of the Jewish infiltration of the Church, it had to be the bulwark in the war against Mohammedanism, and was unquestionably the mainstay in keeping the barque of Peter afloat in the turbulent sea brought about by the Protestant revolt. The author describes the master conspiracy already healthy in the sixteenth century, and gives details concerning the activities of the Illuminati, freemasonry, talmudism, and organized Jewry. By highlighting unforgettable episodes he demonstrates that the Protestant revolt was spawned not from concern for reform, but from a renewal of the ancient hatred for Christ and His Mystical Body the Church.

It was the Inquisition and King Philip II who were largely responsible for the survival of a Catholic Spain. The aims of the secret societies, which shaped perfidious England and would later bathe France in the blood of the Revolution and its Reign of Terror, were thwarted in Spain by the one man who was determined to protect his country and his Church. “If all Catholics had been as determined as Philip II,” says Dr. Walsh, “the gradual but noticeable encirclement and isolation of the Church in the modern world might have been prevented or indefinitely postponed.” It is little wonder, then, that the enemies of God and His Church have made a scapegoat of Philip II and rewritten history — because it was he, as our author notes, “more perhaps than any other individual of his time, who defeated their monstrous plot and postponed the decisive conflict for centuries.”

But the picture was not all dark in the sixteenth century. There were many illustrious pearls of the Church who enlightened the world with their glory, and touched the life of King Philip. A few zealous souls even among his family died holy deaths and were revered as saints by the people. And, while Philip was king, St. Pius V, one of the wisest Popes of all time, was on the Chair of Peter. There was St. Charles Borromeo who exercised his previous influence on the Council of Trent (1545-1563); there was the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who had died in 1566 and was succeeded by St. Francis Borgia who, like St. Pius V, had a great deal to do with the miraculous victory over the Moslem invaders at Lepanto. During this time, St. John Fischer, St. Thomas More, St. Edmund Campion and a host of others shed their blood in England for the Faith.

In the Spanish territory in the New World, in Peru, five saints blossomed into glorious flowers in the heavenly gardens of Holy Mother Church: St. Turibio, the Archbishop, and his spiritual children, all contemporaries: St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, St. John Macias, and St. Francis Solano. In Spain itself, St. Teresa of Avila, Carmelite nun later to be named Doctor of the Church, personally visited and certainly prayed for her Catholic Majesty. Philip II was rewarded for his care of, and concern for, relics of the saints, many of which were incorrupt after centuries, and certain to be abused by the defilers of the sacred, who were so plentiful in his time. Another saint, Didacus (Franz Diego, after whom San Diego is named), cured Philip’s son of a lethal ailment.

For the man who had given Spain so much; who loved her and kept her Catholic; who sent the Faith to the New World — commissioning Menendez who founded the Florida settlement of St. Augustine; who oversaw the conversion of natives in the Philippines (the islands named after him); who, despite faults, tried to live as a good Catholic, and to defend his Church as a Catholic King should; death came on September 13, 1598, at the age 71.

It is with gratitude, then, that we remember the man who thwarted the plans of the enemies of God’s Church (those agents of Satan who still battle us today), the saints and other valiant personages surrounding him, and we thank William Thomas Walsh, who courageously and painstakingly has left us King Philip II’s story, and we thank most supremely our Triune God in His Loving Providence, who will never abandon His Church nor those who stand up to defend It!

Excerpts from the Book

“In Spain, as long as the Inquisition lasted, there would be no religious wars, no burning churches, no slaughtered priests. France would know these atrocities, and England, and the Netherlands. It would be centuries before the enemies of Christendom could introduce them again in Spain. If the method seems cruel to us, it is because we forget the cruel fate, the long crucifixion of a great people, to which it was the harsh reply. It at least had the merit of proceeding judicially. It could at least claim that the evil it caused was far less than the horrors it averted.” (pg. 235)

“Documents of the Alta Vendita, made public by the papal government in 1846, disclosed a systematic and deliberate campaign of slander. One letter said: ‘Our ultimate end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution — the final destruction of Catholicism, and even the Christian idea. The work which we have undertaken is not the work of a day, nor of a month, nor of a year. It may last many years, a century perhaps… Crush the enemy whoever he may be; crush the powerful by means of lies and calumny… If a prelate comes to Rome from the provinces to exercise some public function, learn immediately his character, his antecedents, above all, his defects.., envelop him in all the snares you can lay under his feet; create for him one of those reputations which will frighten little children and old women. . . paint him cruel and sanguinary: recount regarding him some trait of cruelty which can easily be engraved in the minds of the people.’ If this was never formulated so concretely until the nineteenth century, it describes, with startling accuracy, what the enemies of the Church had been doing for centuries. It describes what they did to the reputation of Philip II.” (pg. 251)

“Lepanto, nevertheless, was a turning point in history. It showed that the Mediterranean was not yet, and need never be, an oriental lake. It shattered the fatalistic belief, prevalent among Christians, that the Moslems had grown too powerful to be defeated. When the prayer of one white-haired old man in the Vatican (Pius V) could prevail over a whole world of material and moral obstacles, Catholics everywhere had a new and invigorating reminder of the indestructibility of the Church and her mysterious power of renewing her strength.”

“It was literally true — and this is the key, the beginning and the end of any understanding of the character of this King — that Philip II so clearly perceived that Christ in this world dwelt in the one holy and apostolic Catholic Church of Rome, and nowhere else, and that the salvation of men depended literally, as He had said, upon their acceptance of this fact, that he was willing to attest his sincerity by staking on it treasures, kingdoms, peace of mind and health of body…” (pg. 528)

“Better than the Spanish prelates they understood that, important as discipline was, doctrine came first. Discipline could always be corrected. But once a single article of faith was sacrificed, the whole unified system of Catholic belief was soon lost.” (pg. 81)

“The Inquisition under Philip II, moreover, gave careful attention to a secret society which, if not then Masonic, was destined to keep its name, form and principles for two centuries, and then to have a remarkable influence upon the Grand Orient lodges of France. This was the society of the Alumbrados, or Illuminates . . . It was found that under the pretense of virtue and of reformed religion — they professed to be individually ‘illuminated’ by the Holy Spirit — these wretches, like the early Priscillians and Albigenses, were engaged in a wholesale campaign of defamation against the clergy and the Church, of seduction of rich widows, the compromising of young girls in nocturnal orgies, assassina­tion, and all manner of subversive activity . . . Several of these subversives were executed from time to time, but large numbers escaped and made their way north, where they finally reappeared in Germany with the Latinized name of Illuminati. In the middle of the eighteenth century they underwent a reorganization of some sort at the hands of ‘Spartacus’ Weishaupt, with such volcanic effect that their emissaries, including the infamous Anacharsis Clootz who signed himself ‘the personal enemy of Jesus Christ,’ illuminized the French Masonic lodges to prepare them for their share in bathing France in the blood of the Revolution. Conceivably in an earlier period Philip II and the Inquisition saved Spain from a similar fate at their hands.” (pg. 316)