Since the 18th Century, Freemasonry had been engaged in a struggle to gain complete power in Portugal, leaving that country unstable and prone to a revolution. In October of 1910 the Masons finally succeeded in implementing a Masonic government by means of revolution. On the night of October 3, an organized group of Masons broke into one of the barracks of the infantry regiments. The revolutionaries within the armed forces were assisted by civilians, while the majority of the military remained neutral. The loyalists were disarmed, and on October 5 Portugals constitutional monarchy was defeated in Lisbon and the Masonic Republic was proclaimed. A provisional government made up of all the leading Freemasons was established, which had the support of the governments of France and England.
The revolution immediately targeted the Catholic Church: churches were plundered, convents were attacked and religious were harassed. Scarcely had the provisional government been installed when it began devoting its entire attention to an anti-religious policy, in spite of a disastrous economic situation. On October 10 five days after the inauguration of the Republic the new government decreed that all convents, monasteries and all religious orders were to be suppressed. All religious were expelled and their goods confiscated. The Jesuits were forced to forfeit their Portuguese citizenship.
A series of anti-Catholic laws and decrees followed each other in rapid succession. On November 3, a law legalizing divorce was passed; then laws recognizing the legitimacy of children born outside wedlock, authorizing cremation, secularizing cemeteries, suppressing religious teaching in the schools and prohibiting the wearing of the cassock, were passed. In addition, the ringing of church bells and times of worship were subjected to certain restraints, and the public celebration of religious feasts was suppressed. The government even interfered with the seminaries, reserving the right to name the professors and determine the programs. This whole series of persecution laws culminated in the law of Separation of Church and State, which was passed on April 20, 1911.
It appeared that the Freemasons victory was complete. Alfonso Costa, the author of these laws, felt confident enough to declare at that time: “Thanks to this law of separation, in two generations Catholicism will be completely eliminated in Portugal.”
Yet, due to the firmness of Pope St. Pius X, who rejected all of the Republics attempts at compromise, the Church in Portugal was able to remain united under attack. The faithful supported their bishops, who together resisted the government. This led to the exile of the majority of the countrys bishops and the imprisonment of many priests. Yet the Church in Portugal was thus able to preserve its faith from the poison of the Masonic revolution.
The revolution, nevertheless, had its effects on the country. The extent of the damage done by means of the tireless persecution and destruction of Portugal in every area was incalculable, and the Masons hold on the country and the damage they caused seemed irreversible. However, the year 1917 would soon prove to be a turning point in the fate of Portugal, the “Land of Holy Mary.”