as time passed agricultural modernisation and emigration to the cities and Latin America led to rural depopulation that undermined the vitality of village life.
Conditions in southern regions, such as Andalusia and Extremadura in Spain and the Baixo Alentejo in Portugal, were less promising. Parishes were few compared to the north, while in districts of large estates worked by landless day labourers religious indifference took root. The indefatigable Redemp-torist missionary Ramon Sarabia, who worked extensively in rural Andalusia and Extremadura early in the twentieth century, saw a pattern of low religious observance, the massive abstention of men from religious services and widespread ignorance of elementary doctrinal knowledge as characteristic of southern Catholicism.27 Although there is less evidence for Portugal, it is reasonable to assume that the low levels of practice observed by religious sociologists for the twentieth century in certain regions can be traced in part to earlier times.28 The situation in the cities experiencing industrialisation was little better. A Catalan priest commenting on religious observance in Barcelona in the 1850s believed that it once was 'a Christian town' in which 'our churches were filled with men in their workers' shirts'. But 'the day arrived when this people, who until then appeared Catholic, abandoned religious practices little by little'.29 In Lisbon and Oporto towards the end of the nineteenth century, workers 'lived totally at the margins of the church'.30
In spite of the loyalty of the northern peasantry to the church, clergy and activist laity faced daunting challenges. How they were to be met caused controversy and, at times, confusion among bishops, priests and laymen seekingto 'rechristianise' that part of the population that had become indifferent or even hostile to religion. But by the last quarter ofthe nineteenth century, numerous initiatives on a broad front were underway, although this 'Catholic revival' produced mixed results. Liberal governments permitted the reintroduction ofthe male religious orders, although their precise legal status remained ambiguous. The expansion of the orders provided the church with an invaluable means of expanding its religious, social and educational activities. In Spain, the number of male religious increased from 1,683 in 1860 to 13,359 by 1910, the number of nuns from 18,819 to 46,357 during the same period. In Portugal, the ten
27 Callahan, The Catholic Church in Spain, p. 245.
28 See, for example, Franfa, Comportamento religioso da popula^ao portuguesa.
29 Cited in Benet and Marti, Barcelona a mitjans segle XIX, vol. 1, pp. 203-4.
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