24 November 2004

On the 500th anniversary of her death, ISFSP calls upon Spaniards to reconsider the canonization of Queen Isabella of Spain.



As towns throughout Spain commemorate the anniversary of the death of Queen Isabella I of Castile on November 26, 2004, the idea of the Vatican canonizing Isabella and making her a saint has once again been brought to the world’s attention. On this 500th anniversary of her death, the International Society for Sephardic Progress would like to once again call upon the Holy See to not consider beatification for Isabella nor anyone else who contributed to crimes against humanity. On September 27, 1480 Isabella gave her blessing to the start of what is known as the Spanish Inquisition. This is a woman who waged a relentless crusade against the Jewish people, expelling the community of Jews, many who were in Spain long before the Catholics themselves.

Through her actions, Isabella had directly contributed to suffering, economic destruction and death of her subjects. Sadly, revisionism is widespread throughout Spain and the world. One member of the public recently declared “Queen Isabella and all of Spain have been…by a preposterously but viciously concocted 'Black Legend' of the Spanish Inquisition.” Shelomo Alfassa, Executive Director of the ISFSP stated:

“Contrary to what anti-Semitic historic revisionists state, Isabella was intimately involved in obtaining the Papal Bull from Rome for this specific purpose. Descendants of the very Jews which fled Isabella's reign still speak the 15th century Spanish language their forefathers took with them when forced to leave, it is horrific that these descendants would live to see the day when such a criminal personality would be elevated to a position of veneration.”

Mr. Alfassa added, “Regrettably, the Church has a precedent for this. In the 15th century they canonized Vincent Ferrer. St. Vincent was a man who was responsible for inciting furious mobs which burned Jewish shops and homes and murdered Jews in an orgy of carnage throughout Spain in 1391.”

The results of the Inquisition Isabella endorsed some nine decades later, brought Spain to one of the lowest points in its history. It proved to be economically disastrous for the country, and hundreds of thousands of persons over many generations suffered as a result of it. It is well known that the Spanish population knows little about the Jewish people and their plight in Spain. This is because Jews have been marginalized or totally stricken from most textbooks in the country. As the Spaniards celebrate Isabella this week with gala festivals throughout the country, we call on them to reconsider their goal of desiring to make Isabella into a Saint and to not examine the history of Isabella with rose colored glasses.


The International Society for Sephardic Progress is a Jewish agency developed to serve the Sephardic community--the descendants of the Jews of historic Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Levant who share both common religious and cultural bonds. Although based in the United States, the ISFSP is an advocacy organization representing Sephardim internationally.



May 16, 2004

(Related Past Press Release)

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