Suffering for the Saints–Blood Festivals in Spain

Armory of the Revolution


“It hurts me to say it but the Spanish are a savage, insensitive and ignorant people.” Miguel Angel Rolland made that stark assessment as he discussed his film, Santa Fiesta, which documents the brutality that is a part of many Spanish celebrations.

Estimates are that approximately 60,000 animals are killed during festivals held in honor of the Virgin Mary or local saints, particularly in the smaller towns throughout Spain. Much of Spanish identity is at the local level, rather than the national level, and people are “fiercely loyal” to their own communities and the customs that evolve there.

Because of that fierce loyalty, Rolland had to film the documentary in secret. When he was discovered, he said he was “run out of town”: “Everyone goes, they take their children. These cruel events have the church’s blessing. . . .” Rolland maintains he has always wanted to make his film to…

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