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  • Religious Mania at Torrox May 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    Every so often rural communities take on acts of high religious eccentricity. There was, for example, Datten in Germany where in 1901 a fit of dancing mania broke out (another post another day). There was the case at Kherson in Ukraine in 1896-1897 of a religion sect allowing its members to be buried alive (wth! another post, another day). There was the Italian village of Gargano, which in the mid 1930s (in the middle of hig Fascism!) decided to collectively convert to Judaism (another post, another day). Then there was Torrox in southern Spain in 1887, a new case, that I’ve only just discovered: despite my castellano I’ve not been able to track down any other details. Can someone help? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    A very extraordinary case is about to come before the High Tribunal of Malaga [nearest city]. A few months ago a woman, a native of the village of Torrox, declared that the Virgin Mary had appeared to her, and had ordered her to preach a new Gospel to the salvation of mankind as the end of the world was at hand. The woman’s story seems to have been believed without hesitation, and soon the whole village was in a state of religious frenzy. The woman preached in favour of the abandonment of earthly possessions, and advocated a return to the mode of life and habits of primitive man.

    So far this is pretty low grade stuff. It should also be said that ‘old’ Torrox in the interior (there is also a coastal Torrox near by) was a town at this date of several thousand: presumably this was a minority then of the community? In any case, their enthusiasm cannot be doubted.

    During the height of the frenzy a large fire was lighted in the village into which the converts to this fantastic superstition threw their valuable furniture and clothes, men, women, and children dancing and shouting around the fire in a state of nudity.

    If it hadn’t been for the dancing and nudity we could have said ‘Savonarola’ and moved on: this was nothing but a Spanish bonfire of the vanities. But…

    Warned of what was going on, the local gendarmerie arrived only just in time to save the infants from being thrown into the fire by their frenzied mother, and to prevent the houses of the village from being set on fire.

    Not clear why throwing the children into the fire would have helped with earthly possessions. Or was this exaggeration on the part of the forces of order?