“Then the earth shook and quaked;
And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.”
The Great Lisbon Earthquake,
November 1, 1755
ome historians, theologians and insurance companies of the past attributed “natural disasters” to God’s control over His creation, “Acts of God,” but denied Him any role in the supposed life of free-will autonomous man. Theologians tend to speculate that God uses floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes to prune the human race for assumed transgressions against the Creator. Those who claim to know exactly what God’s ultimate purposes for particular “natural disasters” are, exhibit their own speculative ignorance. See the book of Job. Those who think God has no role in controlling the lives of men, see the 66 canonical books of the Bible.
An artist’s allegorical representation of the aftermath of the earthquake—angels of judgment bearing swords are seen flying about, as well as street preachers, priests, and people clinging to crosses, all signifying the perception of God’s judgment through the earthquake
On All Saints Day in 1755, an earthquake estimated at up to 9.2 magnitude struck Lisbon, Portugal and northwest Africa about 9:40 in the morning. It lasted about five minutes, opened five-foot-wide fissures in the ground, and caused numerous fires. The water in the bay rushed out to sea and thousands fled to the open docks for safety. Forty minutes later, a tsunami came roaring back landward, engulfing the harbor and all its ships and the downtown business center, as well as rushing up the Tagus River.
The Rossio Square (facing All Saints’ Royal Hospital, center) and St. George Castle, prior to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake