Originally published: Diego Amante, Círculo Tradicionalista del Río de la Plata.
A historic event, possibly the greatest event in history after the Incarnation of Christ, is the reason that brings us to break the silence of this spring morning. May a rough voice rise to celebrate it, amongst the pristine songs of the birds of our Villa. It has been 531 years since that milestone, when the caravels carrying the Living Christ reached our shores, and, as if it were a jocose pun of Providence, it was Christopher, the bearer of Christ, who “commanded” those sails. He had departed from Puerto de Palos, bidding farewell to the Virgin of La Rábida, not knowing that the true Captain of History had other plans. These adventurous men were not destined to the banal fate of commerce, theirs was a far more sublime business based on the Economy of Salvation. They did not yet know, as Peter the Apostle did not know, that on that morning, barren of fish, rich in Grace, he would meet the Messiah. But his heart hoped. Hope is a fruit of love, and its reward is the beloved good; he hoped for it, and therefore he recognized it when he saw it: “But who do you say I am, Peter? – You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Blessed Peter! Well done, Christopher, for henceforth you will be the banner that will bear my Cross!
He was not alone in this venture, thousands of young dreamers followed, it was a civilizing venture, tenaciously and nobly carried out in inhospitable and unknown lands, full of perils from the prickly thistles to the dense jungles. It was a mission. An enormous and gigantesque mission: to bear Christ and Hispanic culture, it was the commandment of their God and their Queen. And thus, only fifty years after that landing, there were already hundreds of formation houses, monasteries, missions, hospitals… and even universities in these new lands! Heroic were the efforts and gigantic their fruits!
Spain did much for these lands and their inhabitants: “The preservation of the native languages, which did not know writing, elaborating dictionaries and grammars; a catechesis that embraced a large part of the indigenous communities; the incorporation of their own rites, which are still very present in our Argentinian North; the development of handicrafts, their own painting and architecture; their own music, which began by accompanying religious festivities and ended producing dances and songs, not only religious but also profane, which are still present in the roots of our popular folklore…”.
But above all, a Christian moral code, characteristic of this new race that was rising on the face of the earth; a race that had nothing to do with genetics or skins, but with an undeniable and unquestionable cultural identity, from Patagonia to Mexico. No other nation could have accomplished such a grand undertaking; Spain seems to have been prepared since eternity for this task: That mighty Spain, the last to abandon the Glorious Age of Medieval Christendom; that which had recovered its lands from the Muslim invasion after eight hundred years of incessant struggle; that which had kept its core identity unscathed, intertwined with God and with the tender love of His Mother; an identity shaped by Greek genius, virile Roman pragmatism, and the heroic and chivalrous deeds of the Middle Ages. This Spain is the one that forged the humus of the Fatherland, characterized by primacies that should never have ceased to exist: “The primacy of the spiritual over the material; of being over thinking; of the ethical-moral over the scientific-technological; of the natural order over any juridical positivism; of that power which always comes from above and which must find the best way to be exercised on earth; of the political over the economic; of honesty and honor over avarice and greed”.
All of this was to be celebrated, and from this came el Día de la Raza, which later gave way to las Fiestas de la Hispanidad. But this gigantic undertaking, of which we can only give vague outlines in this brief moment, had enemies who made the Spanish epic the target of scorn, insults, perjury, and stumbling blocks, with well-prepared and distributed lampoons in which they taught us to renounce our heritage, which is like renouncing our flesh and blood. In this way, we have gone from celebrating the Día de la Hispanidad to celebrating the persuasive fallacy of the curse; we have called it the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity” without really understanding what respect, diversity, and much less culture are; as if it were not also the Hispanic culture that we must recognize as “criolla,” that of the Wichis or Coyas, who express in their songs, in their popular religiosity, or in their folklore the undeniable Spanish presence. These atomists of culture pretend to divide and rule, to make us disappear in the maelstrom of non-identity. It should not be so: for this not to happen, it is necessary to carry out the educational work that should determine the purpose of this Saint Augustine College and all the schools of Hispanic America: to settle in the perennial transcendentals of the Good, Truth and Beauty, in order to keep intact that primacy of which we have spoken.
It is with this conviction that we greet the whole of baptized America, with the same greeting that the poet Juan Antonio Cavestany gave:
“Grandiose America, proud continent
By the kiss that one day sealed thy chaste brow,
Thy hidden strength thy noble redemption hath found!
Today you hold in your hands the lever of the world.
Be great! But do not forget that your greatness comes
From Spain, from your Mother, from the kiss of Columbus”.
Diego Amante, Círculo Tradicionalista del Río de la Plata
Translation by the Gremio San Jerónimo