Immaculate Heart of Mary, Ora pro nobis.

This blog is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in reparation for all the sins committed against Her Most Pure Heart. May Her Immaculate Heart draw us closer to Her Divine Son, Our Most Precious Lord.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christopher Columbus---Invader and Slave Trader or Missionary?

     Yesterday, a friend on Facebook posted a fairly common and sarcastic comment about Christopher Columbus.  I expect such from most people, but this friend is a Catholic, and I was truly surprised.  I know the anti-Catholic drivel they teach in U.S. public schools, but do Catholics not know their own history?
     History in public schools is sorely lacking primarily because the truth can no longer be told.  In an effort not to proseltyze, the government run schools must eliminate entire chunks of history because so much of it is Christian, mostly Catholic, in nature.  As only one example, the discussion of early Americans and Thanksgiving is mostly defunct of the Protestants seeking religious refuge in the English colonies.  Such is the case with Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the New World.  When the government seeks to strip Catholicism and the truth from history, then the motives of the great men and women and events in the past become purely sadistic, twisted, and selfish.  What else can they be?  
     Our Lord Jesus Christ is the center of all history, both past and present.  Therefore, in order to begin the discussion of the discovery of the New World, looking to Him is the only place to start.  Our Lord Jesus Christ gave a command to the Apostles and also made a prophecy:  " But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)  Are we as Christians supposed to think that Our Lord meant that Christianity was only for the people localized in Jerusalem and the Middle East?  Are we to believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Made Flesh didn't know about the people living in all the far regions of the world yet to be discovered?  Are we to think that Our Lord became Flesh only for the Semites?  Yet, if we believe Our Lord's command, how do we suppose that witnessing to Him, teaching the Truth, offering salvation, was going to happen unless someone traveled to the uttermost parts of the earth and taught the people living there?  
     In the 1400s, China had a huge command of the seas and a massive empire.  They had 7 epic naval expeditions all before 1433.  With so much power, knowledge, and experience, why did China not set sail across the ocean for the New World?  As I mentioned earlier this week, the Muslims were one of the greatest empires in the world during the 15th as well.  Why were they not the ones to discover the New World?    These islands certainly weren't floating around in the seas or in time just waiting for the right moment to be discovered.  Far from it.  Our Lord had a Divine Plan.  It was the True faith, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His offering of salvation that was to be spread across the entire earth and it was Christians, then, who would be charged with the responsibility of making that happen.
     For almost 800 years, the whole of Spain was ruled by the Moslems.  The only-goal of the Islamic Moors was to rid the influence of Christ from the minds of all the people under their rule.  The Mohammedans used whatever evil devices they could to ensure this would happen---torture, slavery, imprisonment, and death.  Yet, within Spain their remained small numbers of Christians who vociferously fought for the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christians, in those days, had no choice but to be warriors.  War after war after war finally rid Spain of all Moslem influence in 1491.  It was during these last few years of Moslem power that Queen Isabella of Castile came to rule.  She was devoted to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.  Her marriage to Ferdinand brought stability in Spain and allowed her religious zeal and piety to flourish.  She was determined that the True Faith would prevail in Spain and she set in place laws an practices ensuring that would happen.  (Yes, the Spanish Inquisition flourished during this time, however, that requires a separate discussion)  And it was her vision that helped her to recognize the same spirit in Christopher Columbus when he came to her seeking financing for his trip to the West Indies. 
   The conditions of the world into which both Christopher and Isabel were born are nothing that modern Christians could understand..  In Spain, the Moslems had oppressed Christians, Christianity, and all Christian thought from society.  In other parts of Europe, Christianity was facing challenges from humanism which laid the foundation for the Enlightenment and the Protestant heresies.  In many places of that time, it seemed that the True Faith would be all but lost.  It was out of these dark times, that Christopher Columbus emerged with a mission to fulfill Our Lord's Divine  Plan that had begun with the Apostles.
     The exact date of Christopher Columbus birth is unknown, but he was probably born about 1436 in Genoa, Italy.  It is clear from the extensive writings of Columbus that he was a deeply pious man.  It is also clear from his writings that his intended purpose for his trip to the Indies was not one of wealth-searching but of soul-saving.  In Columbus' time, the Moslems had sought to deny Christ as the Divinity.  They had done so with force, violence, and hatred.  Columbus, and many of the saints who were born in this time, sought only to spread through the whole world the Truth.  Columbus was filled with missionary zeal to bring the hope of salvation, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the pagans in the Indies. 
   If this is the case, that Columbus only sought to convert the peoples of the West Indies, why did he not take the normal route that had been used so many times before?  Simple.  In his Book of Prophecies, Columbus explains that the normal trade routes through the Orient had been closed by the Mohammedans and another route had to be found if he was to complete his mission.  While some historians declare this was merely an excuse for him to seek riches through another path, Columbus saw it as God's Providence.  Each entry in Columbus log recounts his love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, when he first reached land on October 12, 1492, Columbus wrote these words:  "At dawn we saw naked people, and I went ashore in the ship's boat …I unfurled the royal banner and the captains brought the flags which displayed a large green cross with the letters "F" [Ferdinand] and "Y" [Isabella] at the left and right side of the cross …To this land I gave the name San Salvador, in honor of our Blessed Lord."   He found the people of this New World both friendly and interesting.  When he wrote about them he said: "I want the natives to develop a friendly attitude towards us because I know they are a people who can be made free and converted to our Holy Catholic Faith more by love than by force." Columbus brought with him on his journey and incredibly piety and a mission to convert the world.  
   Christopher Columbus' discovery and mission laid the foundation for other explorers and missionaries to bring the True Faith to the America's.  In Europe, Catholicism had been lost to Protestantism, humanism, and the Enlightenment.  Yet, God's manifest destiny made a way for the True Faith to take root and blossom in a New World.  In the 1500s, one Spanish explorer after another came to the New World.  Not all of them held Columbus' philosophy.  Some conquered and converted by the sword.  But in spite of the warriors who came, the seeds were sown for the Gospel.  The growth of Catholicism in such a short period of time is unparalleled in history.
     In 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the pagan Aztec convert, St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, Mexico.  Missionaries from Spain came to settle in the area, and by 1540 over 8 million Aztecs converted to Christianity.  From there, Catholicism spread throughout all of Latin America and up into the what is now the Southern and Western parts of the United States.   The Latin American nations today are truly some of the only remaining Catholic nations in the world.
     But what of the accusations that Christopher Columbus was an invader and slave trader?  What about the destruction of the entire race of indigenous people due to Old World diseases of which they had no immunity?    As to the former, Columbus' own pen clarifies his purpose.  He was looking, not to invade but to convert.  Slave trading was a common practice among many native tribes and many countries.  While it is certainly clear that many Europeans were involved in the slave trading industry, the first countries to condemn the practice were Catholic ones.  By the mid 1500s, the practice was forbidden and condemned throughout the New World.  As to the latter, a research study in 1999 by the University of Puerto Rico indicates that over 60% of island inhabitants contain DNA from the Taino tribe--the "Indians" that Columbus' first encountered way back in 1492. If the entire indigenous population was wiped out by disease, why is over half the population indigenous?  Hmmm. 
     The history of the Americas is amazingly beautiful, inspiring, and mostly Catholic.  However, when the Protestants came to America in the 1600s, they brought with them their anti-Catholic propaganda.  Christopher Columbus, of course, was their prime target.  If they could discredit the man, call into question his character and motives, then they could discredit Catholicism.   Why?  Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain, in accord with God's Divine Providence, saved Catholicism from the Muslims, the humanists, and the Protestants by bringing the True Faith to America.  It was Queen Isabella's daughter, Catherine of Aragon, who was met with scorn and discarded by her husband King Henry VIII.  He started his own religion because he had become frustrated with his wife and lusted after another woman.  His "revolt" set the stage for the multitude of Protestant religious beliefs that erupted in Europe.  These were the first people who came to the U.S. American colonies.  Yet, the oldest city in the U.S. is St. Augustine, Florida which was settled in 1565 by the Spanish settlers who were attempting to follow in Columbus' footsteps---all Catholics, all with missionaries, and priests, hoping to bring the True faith to the New World.
     Christopher Columbus, when he landed in what he called San Salvador, brought to the pagan people there freedom.  He and the Spanish settlers brought them the Gospel.  They rescued them from polygamy and idolatry.  The freed them from superstition and strife.  They left in its place the Sacraments and a love for Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.  And as the Lord commanded, the Gospel was carried "even to the ends of the earth."  
   Sadly, U.S. school students won't learn about much of this in history class.  Instead of learning that the history of the entire world rests on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, they learn the propaganda put forth by the Protestants, the humanists, and the secularists.  The truth is God's Divine plan required Christopher Columbus to bring Catholicism to a New World where it could take root and manifest.  Without Catholicism, the True Faith, there is no Christ.  Without Christ, there is no salvation.  Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella knew this.  Why don't we?


1 comment:

  1. Informative post. I was never taught in public school that Columbus had a missionary purpose. The impression I got was that he was a merchant marine. And I never learned that he sought another route because the Arabs and Persians had closed off the normal trade route.

    The example of the Pilgrims was also interesting. Nowadays, the public schools have completely downplayed the religious aspect of the Pilgrims' settlement. Mostly, they teach about the native Americans. If anything, they say that the Pilgrims came to the new world to practice "religious freedom." They downplay the history of religious persecution, and they never tell the children who was persecuting the Pilgrims in Europe.

    Leaving the history unexplained, the young pupil is left to fill in the blanks. In the South, where Catholics are rare, this means that the students assume that the Pilgrims were persecuted by the Catholics in Europe. I'm confident that MOST Southerners have this misconception.

    Also, there are two ongoing misconceptions that are incredibly prevalent. One is the secular assumption that the Catholic church was the cause of the dark ages. Few Americans know anything about the effects of the barbarian invasions. Another misconception is that the dark ages ended with the Protestant reformation. Apparently, they've never heard of the Italian renaissance.

    That being said. There is something to be said for our young man's critique. Manifest Destiny (a largely Protestant Doctrine) was used as an excuse, not for spreading the Gospels, but for displacement and stealing land. An honest look at history shows a vast difference between Catholic explorers and Protestant Settlers. Certainly, the Catholics--including Columbus--were not without their sins. But their methods and goals were different. The Protestants feared cross-cultural contamination and often viewed the natives as unable to receive salvation. As such, they more readily embraced slavery and displacement. The Catholics were more apt to live among the indigenous populations, and thus either assimilated the natives into their culture or absorbed many of their native practices.