Thursday 27 March 2014

HOW TO CATCH A JEW. Instructions posted on your local church door.

Where? When? Berlin, 1938? No, Valencia, 1512, by the inquisitor Andres de Palacio.

The instructions posted on church doors were addressed to all the faithful, men and women, of every condition, quality, and estate. They invited them to spy on their neighbours and report persons who might have sinned against the Holy Catholic faith. More particularly, the inquisitor wanted to know about Jews practicing their religion in secret and observing the law of Moses. A long list of suspect behaviour was appended.

  • Changing into clean linen on Saturdays,
  • Preparing on Fridays the food for Saturdays,
  • Refraining from work on Friday evenings and Saturdays,
  • Kindling lights on Friday evening,
  • Eating unleavened bread and bitter herbs,
  • Standing up before a wall and saying prayers,
  • Shrinking from eating pork, hares, snails or fish that had no scales,
  • Cutting sinews out of meat, taking a morsel of dough when baking and throwing it into the fire.
And what if you didn’t want to denounce your neighbours?  Shame on you, abettor of heretics!

That is what Palacio called people who were reluctant to become spies for the Inquisition. He posted a warning to strike fear into their hearts.

And you, who with obstinate hearts refuse to declare and manifest the things you have heard and seen, will be proceeded against, excommunicated and accursed, for you have incurred the wrath of the Almighty God, who will turn your prayers to maledictions.

Your property will be given to others and your children will be orphans and your wives and widows. And likewise the houses you inhabit and the clothes you wear and the animals your ride and the beds on which you sleep and the tables on which you eat: let them be accursed and ruined, and may your wickedness be ever present in the divine memory. Amen.
(Source: C. Roth, The Spanish Inquisition. Image:

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