A monumental cross towers above the Valley of the Fallen complex. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 28, 2024 / 10:30 am (CNA).

The Association for Reconciliation and Historical Truth has garnered more than 130,000 signatures on a petition calling for the Madrid regional government to protect the Valley of the Fallen as an asset of cultural interest (BIC, by its Spanish acronym) in opposition to the socialist government’s plans to desacralize and reconfigure the area’s historical significance.

In the petition, which is posted in Spanish on HazteOir’s web portal, the petition’s promoters explain that “the social-communist government has put the machinery in motion to destroy the Valley of the Fallen and transform it into a “museum” of horrors by rewriting history with falsehoods, blaming one side for all the evils [of the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War] and hiding the crimes of the other.”

Two years ago, the Madrid regional government, headed by President Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the People’s Party, refused to declare the area as a BIC on the basis that the regional Heritage Law prevented it. “After updating the Heritage Law and running out of excuses, she’s still not keeping her word,” the association charges.

The Valley of the Fallen is a monumental complex that has previously been designated as a national heritage site. It was built in the Madrid mountains after the Spanish Civil War with the intention of serving as a center for reconciliation and for the interment of combatants from both sides of the conflict.

The complex has an underground basilica in which thousands of combatants from both sides are buried. Above it stands the largest cross in the world certified by the Guinness Book of Records at 500 feet tall. In the surroundings, a monumental Way of the Cross was built, almost three miles long with about 2,300 steps that ends at the basilica.

Next to it, a community of Benedictine monks from the Monastery of St. Dominic of Silos was established.

Pope Pius XII erected the monastery as an abbey in 1958, the only one in the 20th century to not have been previously designated a priory. In 1960, Pope John XXIII raised the abbey’s church to a minor basilica.

Initially, a social studies center was established on the grounds, which functioned from 1958 to 1982. The abbey runs a hostel and the Holy Cross Choral School, where about 30 boys are educated.

Currently, the Valley of the Fallen is in disrepair due to inadequate maintenance by the government’s national heritage agency. Since 2019, the government has announced plans to eliminate the Holy Cross Valley of the Fallen Foundation, an institution created at the time of the monument’s construction, and create in its place a new legal framework.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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