“A Monument to the Devil Himself”
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN SPAIN
AN EXTRAORDINARY statue stands in the city of Madrid, Spain. Its appearance and its title—“The Fallen Angel”—may not surprise the casual observer. A closer look, however, reveals that it is a monument to none other than Satan the Devil!
A visitor to Spain, traditionally a Catholic country, expects to see statues of angels or “saints” but not one dedicated to the ruler of the demons. Notwithstanding, Ricardo Bellver, a 19th-century Spanish sculptor, decided to break with tradition. He was familiar with John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, which describes how Satan was ousted from heaven because of his pride and rebellion. In 1874, Bellver completed a statue portraying this dramatic fall.
Bellver did not depict the Devil as a horned, beastlike creature in harmony with traditional representations of Satan. Quite the contrary, he imagined the ruler of the demons as a beautiful but corrupt angel at the moment he was hurled from heaven. (Revelation 12:9) And this portrayal harmonizes more closely with what the Bible itself says.a
What did the people of Madrid think about such a statue? According to one art historian, some were appalled by the idea of erecting a statue to Satan. The Spanish government, however, put up the money, and the statue won two prizes for artistic merit, one in Madrid and the other in the International Exhibition of Paris in 1878. Art triumphed over tradition, and by 1879 the impressive bronze statue took its place in Retiro park.
In today’s secular society, this statue to Satan raises few eyebrows. “The city of Madrid should feel proud to be the only city in the world that has dedicated a monument to the Devil himself,” asserts María Isabel Gea in her work Curiosidades y Anécdotas de Madrid (Curiosities and Anecdotes of Madrid). Be that as it may, few of the thousands who throng Retiro park every Sunday give the statue a second glance.
Likewise, few people today realize that Satan is the invisible source of many of the world’s problems. (Revelation 12:12) But, in view of the clear references to him in the Scriptures, Bible students do not doubt either his existence or his influence. Jesus resisted Satan’s blatant temptations. He also described this evil spirit creature as “a liar and the father of the lie” and as ‘a manslayer who did not stand fast in the truth.’—John 8:44; Matthew 4:1-11.
At a time when the earth is experiencing woe as never before, it is vital to oppose the influence of this frustrated fallen angel.b (James 4:7) Meanwhile, lovers of truth and justice can take comfort in the knowledge that Satan’s ouster from heaven is a prelude to his imminent defeat when Christ ‘breaks up the works of the Devil.’—1 John 3:8.
a Another feature of the statue, the serpent coiled around Satan’s body, has a non-Biblical origin. Apparently, Bellver was inspired by a sculpture that he saw in Rome of Laocoon, a legendary Trojan prince who was supposedly killed, along with his sons, by two serpents.
b For more information about resisting the influence of Satan, see the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.