His Eminence

Enrique Pla y Deniel
Cardinal, Archbishop of Toledo
InstalledOctober 3, 1941 – July 5, 1968
PredecessorIsidro Goma y Tomas
SuccessorVicente Enrique y Tarancón
Other post(s)Previously Bishop of Salamanca
Created cardinalFebruary 18, 1946
Personal details
Born(1876-12-19)December 19, 1876
DiedJuly 5, 1968(1968-07-05) (aged 91)
Toledo, Spain
Styles of
Enrique Pla y Deniel
Coat of arms of Enrique Plá y Deniel.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Enrique Pla y Deniel (December 19, 1876 – July 5, 1968) was a Spanish cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He came from a rich Barcelona family and trained at the local seminary and the Gregorian University in Rome before an early career in journalism and seminary teaching. He took possession of the Salamancan see in 1935. "His seven years in Salamanca, from where he played a crucial role in the construction of General Franco's crusade, were rewarded with elevation to the primatial see of Toledo".[1] He served as Archbishop of Toledo from 1941 until his death, and he was elevated to the cardinalate in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.


Enrique Pla y Deniel was born in Barcelona, and studied at the seminary there before attending the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Angelicum in Rome. Ordained to the priesthood on July 25, 1900, he completed his studies in 1903 and then did pastoral work in Barcelona, where he also served as a seminary professor, director of several newspapers, and cathedral canon.

On December 4, 1918, Deniel was appointed Bishop of Ávila by Pope Benedict XV. He received his episcopal consecration on June 8, 1919, from Archbishop Francesco Ragonesi, with Bishops Enrique Reig y Casanova and Francisco Mas y Oliver serving as co-consecrators. Deniel was later translated to Bishop of Salamanca on January 28, 1935.

On September 30, 1936, Plá issued his famous pastoral letter "The Two Cities", and made his adherence to the insurgents' cause perfectly plain when he vacated the episcopal palace on October 6 in favour of Francisco Franco. His letter was the first lengthy episcopal consideration of the claim to be waging a just war. In it he reiterated St. Augustine's distinction between the terrestrial city, where selfishness prevails, and the celestial city, where love of God replaces all sense of self, and he depicted Spain divided into just such cities; "communism and anarchism are the very ideology leading to the disdain, the hatred for God Our lord; and against them heroism and martyrdom have flourished." The construction of the "earthly city of those without God" had been met by a "heavenly city of God's children". Plá concluded that Thomas Aquinas' conditions for a just war had been met. A rising against the loyalists had been justified. Although, in the eyes of the world, the conflict might have the external appearance of a civil war, in reality it was a crusade. The rebellion had been to re-establish civil order. The Church had to speak out in favour of order, hierarchical government, Christian civilization, religion, fatherland and family. On the same day that Plá y Deniel issued his most famous pastoral letter, General Francisco Franco was proclaimed head of state.[2] The bishop immediately sent a telegram of congratulation anticipating the "glorious resurrection of Christian Spain".

Pope Pius XII named Deniel Archbishop of Toledo, and thus primate of the Church in Spain, on October 3, 1941. He was created cardinal-priest of San Pietro in Montorio by Pope Pius in the consistory of February 18, 1946. Deniel was one of the cardinal-electors who participated in the 1958 papal conclave, which selected Pope John XXIII. From 1962 to 1965, he attended the Second Vatican Council, and sat on its board of presidency.

The Spanish cardinal was considered conservative in his views.[3] Although he was a supporter of General Franco (particularly during the Spanish Civil War),[4] Deniel refused to fire a prominent priest from his post as editor of a Catholic Action newspaper after the latter attacked Spain's press censorship;[5] he did, however, privately suspend the priest. Deniel voted in another conclave, that of 1963, which resulted in the election of Pope Paul VI.

Deniel died in Toledo, at age 91. He is buried in the Cathedral of Toledo.



  1. ^ Mary Vincent, Catholicism in the Spanish Second Republic, Clarendon Press, Oxford p. 18
  2. ^ Mary Vincent, Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic, p. 255
  3. ^ Time. "Toward a Change", June 22, 1962.
  4. ^ Time. "Embarrassing Fact", March 18, 1946.
  5. ^ Time. "Shuffle in Spain", November 22, 1954.
  6. ^ Time. "All in the Family", April 17, 1950.
  7. ^ Time. "The Path to Follow", June 28, 1963.
Catholic Church titles Preceded byJoaquín Beltrán y Asensio Bishop of Ávila 1918–1935 Succeeded bySantos Moro Briz Preceded byFrancisco Frutos Valiente Bishop of Salamanca 1935–1941 Succeeded byFrancisco Barbado y Viejo, OP Preceded byIsidro Goma y Tomas Archbishop of Toledo 1941–1968 Succeeded byVicente Enrique y Tarancón