Isabel – Protector of the Jews

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Many Catholics believe that the greatest woman who ever lived, after the Blessed Mother, is Queen Isabel of Castile. An objective measure for this considers the number of people Isabel influenced, and the period over which her influence has lasted. Isabel directly changed the face of the world and the course of history on a scale no other woman (save Mary) has matched. Throughout her life Isabel was devoted to God. The cause for her canonisation opened in 1958 and advanced steadily. But certain non-Catholics, angered by Queen Isabel’s expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, made emotional protests against her canonisation. Sensitive to the protestors, the Vatican suspended the canonisation process in 1991.

The purpose of this booklet is to appeal to people of goodwill, Jewish and Christian, to accept that the canonisation of Queen Isabel is not something to be protested, nor something which Jews should fear. Isabel had a high regard for Jews, she was their friend and patron, honoured them, and as queen she made great efforts to protect Jews from harm, even in the most explosive of circumstances. She deplored and punished those who incited hatred against Jews or who robbed and exploited Jews in their vulnerability. Isabel was exceedingly reluctant to suspend their permission to remain in the Kingdom. All this is a matter of historical record.

Historical reality is impossible to grasp perfectly but on the question of Queen Isabel and the Jews there exists such an abundance of documentation, of eyewitness testimonies and impartial corroboration, that we have firm hope harmony can be found today. By calling for her canonisation, Catholics mean no offence to anybody. Rather they wish to give glory to God and to serve their neighbours by raising Queen Isabel to the altars as a woman of great justice, compassion and piety.

Miles Jesu, Avila, Spain
May 2007

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