Ecology and Society (Jun 2022)

Praying for rain, resilience, and social stability in Murcia (southeast Spain)

  • José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez,
  • Salvador Gil-Guirado

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 27, no. 2
p. 9


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We analyze the case of pro-pluvia rogations (PPR) performed by the Catholic Church in Murcia, Spain since 1600. PPR were ceremonies to ask God for rain. We show a structural break in the prayer data during the 1830s, coinciding with the end of the ancien régime in Spain. PPR responded to environmental shocks and were used by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities to control the population, ensure stability, and maintain the status quo. Thus, PPR in Murcia have acted as a social resilience instrument. At the same time, PPR highlight the conflict between civil and religious authorities and within religious authorities. Understanding the motives, timing, and other characteristics of religious rituals is crucial to understand the evolution of institutions, the persistence of beliefs and strategies for social adaptation to the environment over the long run.