Lauren C. Batista: España as Text 2019

By Lauren C. Batista of FIU

Photo & Brief Biography

Lauren C. Batista is a Florida International University Honors College student with a major in Liberal Studies: Health and Human Concerns and three minors in Biology, Chemistry, and Entrepreneurship. Lauren plans to graduate in the Spring of 2020 with the goal of attending dental school to pursue a career in Pediatric Dentistry and open her own private dental clinic in the future. Lauren loves to read, travel, dance, and learn about her Catholic faith.


“Home Away From Home” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at Parroquia del Purísimo Corazon de María in Madrid, Spain on June 9, 2019

Sunday is my favorite day of the week.  As a Catholic every Sunday, I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His eternal glory.  This Sunday was special because I celebrated Mass in a different continent with a different parish.  However, not much was different because Catholicism is universal.  You can travel thousands of miles away from home, but once you step foot inside a Catholic Church and celebrate Mass it is as if nothing has changed; you are home once again.  We celebrate the same God, the same practices, and rejoice together as a Christian people.  On Sunday, June 9th, 2019, I attended La Parroquia del Purísimo Corazon de María in Madrid, Spain at noon.  Before Mass started, I took a few moments to speak to one of the deacons of the church.  I learned that the church was established in 1946 and there are approximately 1,800 families registered as parishioners.  The current Pastor of the church is Fr. Greg Hammes.  From my own observations, I saw that the church was full of its regular parishioners with a large population of elderly people and families with young children.  Two young boys helped the priest conduct mass by being altar servers.  The choir was towards the left side of the altar and consisted of people of all ages.  There were three young adult lectors.  During the homily, the pastor celebrated the children of the church where 57 of them received the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time.  He then celebrated 16 men who were to be ordained as deacons the same week.  This parish was lively.  They rejoiced in their accomplishment of spreading the Good News to their people and community.  I joined them in proclaiming the glory of Christ and the joy of being a Christian people whose mission is to serve others.  This parish was the definition of Catholic Spain and the legacy it left behind in the Americas, where a 20-year-old Cuban-American girl can partake in the same celebration. 

All while being content, I was overcome with emotion as I attended Mass because I was reminded of my parish back home where I serve as a lector as well.  Most importantly, on this same Sunday, my pastor Fr. Manny celebrated his last mass at my church, Immaculate Conception in Hialeah, Florida.  He was transferred by the Archbishop to serve a new community.  I was sad that I could not be in attendance for his last homily, but I know he will be glad to know that his teachings and impact have influenced my journey of faith.  He will be glad to know that despite not being home, I attended Mass during my trip.  As I listened to the homily, I contemplated the thought-provoking message being delivered and everything I had learned about Catholicism in Spain.  I felt like I was missing home, but I realized that in fact, I was returning home.  If it were not for the Spanish Reconquista, I probably would not be Catholic.  Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sponsored the trips in 1492 that led to the European discovery of the Americas by Columbus.   There, Catholicism was established and now I am living proof of the legacy of Spanish Conquest.  Although I am thankful for the Spanish bringing Catholicism to America, I must recognize that in the process they used religion and God as a means to torture, enslave, and conquer indigenous people who had their own establishment, religion, and way of life in the Americas.  I am torn by the feelings of compassion for others who suffered at the hands of people who called themselves Christian and at the same time, I wonder if it were not for their journey to spread the Gospel in America through their missions if I would know the man who gave His life for my sins, Jesus Christ, and the beauty of Catholicism.


“Holy Toledo” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at La Catedral Primada in Toledo, Spain on June 13, 2019

On Thursday, June 20, 2019, Catholics celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.  It is known as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ and it celebrates the establishment of the Sacrament of Holy Communion (The Eucharist) during the Last Supper.  In Toledo, this is one of the most important festivals.  The city begins to be decorated for this festival at least five weeks in advance.  The route of the procession is ornated with awnings, wreaths, lanterns, and religious tapestry.  On the day before of the feast, the walls, windows, and the people’s balconies are adorned with antiques from the 16-17th century.  The most important part of the procession is when the Processional Monstrance is paraded around the city.  The Monstrance is stored in the Treasure Room of the Catedral Primada in Toledo.  It was commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros to Enrique de Arfe in 1515 who designed the Monstrance based on the architecture of the Gothic cathedral’s towers.  Queen Isabella the Catholic ordered that jewels from her personal collection be melted and placed on the monstrance.  It is worth around 9.5 million dollars.  It is suspected to contain the first gold that came from America, but that is not confirmed.  The Monstrance is divided into 3 sections and made of 5,600 pieces joined by approximately 12,500 screws.  It has 250 enamel and golden silver small statues.  The diamond Cross was made in 1600 and it is on the top and center of the Monstrance.  It is only removed once every year for the procession of Corpus Christi. This Monstrance emphasizes the grandeur of the Catholic Church in honor for the glory of God.  It also reestablished the domination of Catholicism in Spain because Toledo used to be a melting pot for the three cultures: Moorish, Jewish, and Christian.  Ultimately, Catholicism won especially after La Reconquista.  Although not everyone may be religious in Toledo, the town still celebrates this festival as part of their identity.  As a Catholic, it brings me joy that the Eucharist which is the Body of Christ is celebrated in the city of Toledo and that old, holy, and sacred traditions are kept alive by the Christian people.

Treasure.  (n.d.). Catedral Primada Toledo.  Retrieved June 13, 2019, from


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”


“Title” by Lauren C. Batista of FIU at “Place” on “Date”

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