Hero or Villain: Christopher Columbus
The capital of the United States of America is the District of Columbia, so named in honor of Christopher Columbus. British Columbia, Columbia University, Columbia, South Carolina, and the Columbia River are also all named for the Italian explorer, as well as the Knights of Columbus, and the country of Colombia. Also, there are more than 30 cities in America named Columbus, the most prominent of them in Ohio.
Columbus Day has been celebrated in the United States since 1792 to honor the incredibly courageous discoverer of the New World. The Founding Fathers of America did not call themselves Americans. They called themselves Columbians.
In 1892, Columbus Day was proclaimed a holiday by President Harrison. Many statues were erected across the country to mark the 400th anniversary of his astonishing achievements.
In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a federal holiday, in honor of which banks, post offices, national agencies, state government offices, and school districts are closed. It is the only federal holiday besides Christmas celebrated to revere a person.
The Ku Klux Klan, the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party, smashed statues of Columbus, violently disrupted Columbus Day celebrations, and tried to persuade state governments to disavow the holiday for decades. The cause of the KKK has now been taken up by leftist agitators in today’s Democratic Party. They share the same goals: Tear down the statues, eliminate Columbus Day, and generally heap hate on the man himself because he was a devout Christian, which those on the Left cannot stand, and he advanced Western Civilization, which is fiercely hated by leftists.
The Christ Bearer
The name Christopher means 'Christ Bearer,' and that is what Columbus was. He set out to spread the Good News about Christ to peoples who had not yet heard of Him, in accordance with the Great Commission that Jesus gave his disciples.
Columbus believed it was his divine destiny in God's Will to be the instrument for spreading the Gospel. He did also hope to find gold, but even that was for religious purposes: To fund an expedition to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims, who had taken it from Christians, and who were raping, robbing, and massacring Christian pilgrims trying to visit the sacred sites of the Holy Land.
It is not true that Columbus was cruel to Indians. He punished men under his command that mistreated the natives. He explicitly prohibited robbery, rape, and murder of Indians, and instructed his men to treat them with respect. His orders were not always followed, as we know, and maltreatment did happen in his absence.
Indigenous Peoples Day
The Left is determined to destroy all that Americans once held dear. Out of their loathing for America, they especially despise Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. All the heroes of America must be brought low.
The leftists, who control our government schools, teach all manner of preposterous, outrageous lies to students, such as “Columbus was a monster, a war criminal, and a genocidal maniac who killed millions of Indians."
High school history classes routinely show the Marxist propaganda film The Columbus Controversy that teaches children Christopher Columbus was one of the worst human beings who ever lived and should be despised. This is flat out the falsification of history for ideological purposes.
The Catholic University of Notre Dame recently covered up murals of Columbus, perhaps the greatest hero of Catholicism. Vermont just became the third state, along with South Dakota and New Mexico, to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, perhaps with the Carib Indians in mind, who not only kidnapped women to make them sex slaves but would routinely fatten up male babies and eat them.
Alternatively, maybe it is in honor of the Aztec Indians, who not only owned five million slaves, whom they treated with utter cruelty but also had a little festival in which they cut the beating hearts out of 80,000 human beings in four days. Their butchers worked in shifts, four at a time, round the clock, on convex killing tables, so efficiently that they could kill fourteen victims a minute.
Christopher Columbus: The Man
Christopher Columbus was a self-made man. He knew Latin and scoured all the books he could get his hands on to sharpen his knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. Above all, he studied the Holy Scriptures.
At age fourteen, he had first gone to sea as a cabin boy and apprentice. He sailed all around the Mediterranean, as far east as it goes, to the Levant, which was an area infested by Muslim pirates. He was severely wounded in one battle against them.
In his thirties, we have a description of Columbus as tall, robust, and manly, with blond hair and light blue eyes. It is said he was a perfect gentleman, without vices, who did not swear, gamble, or get drunk.
In the 1470s, we find Columbus engaged in commerce, mapmaking, and bookselling in Lisbon, Portugal. He also undertakes several voyages, including one to Iceland, even sailing 300 miles beyond it, probably up inside the Arctic Circle. In the 1480s, he glides along the coast of Africa, as far south as Guinea.
Like most learned Europeans since the ancient Greeks, Columbus knew the Earth was round, but along with all others, he considerably underestimated how big it was.
In 1474, Columbus, now age 38, exchanged letters with the famous Paul Toscanelli, a doctor, cosmographer, and mathematician from Florence who was a studier of nature and ardently zealous about science. In these letters, the two men discussed sailing west to reach Asia, to find a new route for the spice trade that would bypass the Muslim corsairs blocking the sea routes eastward, and perhaps continuing to circumnavigate the globe. When Columbus discovered the New World, he had a letter from Toscanelli in his pocket.
Overcoming Rejection and Betrayal
Columbus took his idea to the Senate of his hometown, Genoa, only to be rejected. Venice and Portugal likewise turned him down. That is how he ended up sailing under the flag of Spain.
In all of his proposals, at the top of his list of reasons for the voyage was the salvation of peoples who did not know Christ. The humble Columbus was an honorable man, willing to sail into the unknown to bring savage cannibals out of satanic darkness for the glory of God. He wrote:
“Immortal thanks should be rendered to God that Jesus Christ rejoices and triumphs on Earth no less than in Heaven, at the approaching salvation of nations innumerable that were hastening to destruction.”
However, the Portuguese first tried to steal his idea. The King of Portugal asked Columbus for all the details of his knowledge of the Gloomy Ocean, as the western seas were known, along with his proposed route, charts, and specific plan to carry out his mission, only to send his top mariners to try and accomplish the dream of Columbus. A tempest at sea made them turn back.
Columbus was heartbroken to learn of this betrayal, which was amplified soon after the death of his noble wife, Felippa. In 1484, he left Lisbon with his young son, Diego (James), and moved to Cordova, Spain.
In Cordova, Columbus was an unknown, without friends, family, name, or property. He was destitute and approaching fifty-years-old. Fortune smiled upon him as a beautiful young maiden of high birth took a shine to him, and they married in 1486. Beatriz would become the mother of his second son, Fernando.
Ferdinand & Isabella
Columbus would meet King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1486. They would not fund his trip west until 1492, providing him with three small ships and 120 men.
In his first letter to King Ferdinand, we see the forthright, strong, and to the point style of Christopher Columbus:
"Most Serene Prince, I have been engaged in navigating since my youth. I have voyaged on the seas for nearly forty years. I have visited all the known quarters of the world and conversed with a great number of learned men. I have acquired some knowledge of navigation, astronomy, and geometry. I am sufficiently expert in designing the chart of the Earth, in placing the cities, the rivers, and the mountains where they are situated. I have applied myself to the study of works of cosmography, of history, and philosophy. I feel myself at present strongly urged to undertake the discovery of the Indies; I come to your Highness to supplicate you to favor my enterprise."
When Columbus finally got an audience before Ferdinand and Isabella, he told them that what he had in mind was “doing service to our Lord by spreading His holy name and faith among many peoples who are still ignorant of the Messiah. To glorify the Redeemer, to carry the Gospel and civilization to the most distant countries.”
Financial and political concerns were also presented but only as secondary considerations.
The Mission: If He Would Accept It
It is not a coincidence that the year Columbus set out, 1492, was the year the Muslims were finally driven out of Christian Spain, which they had conquered 700 years earlier. The Muslims had declared war on Christian Civilization in the 600s by taking, with massive bloodshed, its three most hallowed cities: Jerusalem, Damascus, and Alexandria. That war continues today.
For overcoming what was sure to be many obstacles and dangers by unrelenting determination and toil, Columbus expected to be handsomely paid. However, he did not want remuneration to live a life of luxury, no sir. He wanted it as a means to an end: To retrieve the Holy Sepulcher—the tomb of Christ Jesus—from the Arabs who had swarmed out of their homeland in the desert of Arabia and stolen it from its rightful heirs, Columbus’ Christian brothers and sisters.
Columbus wanted to enrich Spain by discovering a route to the Indies so that the riches would be spent for this purpose: “I have petitioned Your Highness to see that all the profits of this, my enterprise, should be spent on the conquest of Jerusalem.”
To that end, he planned first to try to buy Jerusalem from the Arabs. If that failed, he would take 55,000 men and reclaim it by force.
Queen Isabella said of Columbus’ journey, “He went into the oceanic regions to accomplish great things for the service of God. To extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and bring great glory to the Church, by preaching Jesus Christ and His Cross throughout the whole universe.”
As Columbus set out, the Santa Maria bore a flag, upon which was the image of Our Savior nailed to the Cross. He shouted, “Unfurl the sails in the name of Jesus Christ!”
The New World
What courage it took to sail into the unknown, to calm the terrors of his men, despite the dangers of the sea. It was not long before the murmurs of mutiny made their rounds. Columbus was a foreigner. All his men were Spaniards. Many wanted to turn back, by casting him into the sea if need be. They could always claim he fell overboard. As the voyage went on longer than any of them planned, open revolt exploded. Columbus was alone against them all.
Somehow, with God's help, he mollified the men. He told them that their revolt would come to nothing because no matter what they thought or did, the journey must and would go on. Columbus would later say, “The eternal God gave me all the strength and courage I needed, and sustained me alone against all.”
The next morning, he assembled his crews and told them to remember all the great blessings God had bestowed upon them. They had had marvelous weather, for one thing. The proper feeling amongst them should be gratitude. He assured them the voyage was almost over. They were approaching land. They had not seen it. However, he predicted they would see it by morning. His closed his speech by making a request: “Let us spend this night in prayer.”
At midnight . . . LAND! Columbus, among shouts of joy, fell on his knees whilst tears of thankfulness poured down his cheeks. In the morning, he stepped on shore, planted a cross in the sand, and prostrated himself on the beach, praising his Heavenly Father:
"Lord! Eternal and Almighty God! Who by Thy sacred Word, has created the heavens, the Earth, and the seas, may Thy name be blessed and glorified everywhere. May Thy Majesty be exalted, who hast deigned to permit that, by Thy humble servant, Thy sacred name should be made known and preached in this other part of the world."
October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered the island he named San Salvador—Holy Savior. Today, it is in the Bahamas, but Columbus believed he had reached the East Indies off the coast of Asia and so he named its inhabitants Indians.
The natives were frightened by the appearance of the three caravels, thinking them to be sea monsters, and hid in the deep woods for a while. They did not wear clothes, had no written language, and had not yet discovered the wheel or metal, stuck in the Stone Age.
When they finally came out to meet Columbus, carrying clubs embedded with a shark’s tooth, he gave them colored caps, tiny bells, glass beads, and other trinkets, which they prized. He wrote, “Men and women were as naked as they were when they came from the bosoms of their mothers.”
Seeing they were simple-minded, Columbus forbade his men to barter with them or take advantage of them in any way. He decided to take seven of the primitives back to Spain, to show the king and queen what the inhabitants were like, to learn their language, teach them Spanish, convert them to Christianity, and bring them back as interpreters.
However, first, Columbus sailed on to Cuba, where he hoped to find gold and spices so that Ferdinand and Isabella would continue to fund his explorations. Cuba had a king, with a capital village of fifty huts. The Indians kissed the feet and hands of the explorers, offered them tobacco to smoke, and called them “celestial men.”
The Admiral couldn’t help but notice that the Indians lived in the interior, not by the sea, even though there were many excellent building sites on the coasts. There was a reason for this, which they explained to Columbus: The Caribs. They were a large tribe of fearsome, powerful cannibals, who would raid the island for humans to eat. They would capture their prey, take them to their islands, hold them in pens as livestock, and fatten them up. Their fellow human beings were a staple of their diet.
Next, Columbus discovered a large island he named “Little Spain,” Hispaniola, because its topography reminded him of Castile. The natives called it Haiti, “high land.”
There he met a tribal chief named Guacanagari, who received him well, with cordial hospitality. Columbus struck a deal with him to build a fort and leave some men behind as he sailed back to Spain. His men could learn all about the Indians and their way of life and language, as well as teach them about Jesus.
Guacanagari was excited that these extraordinary and powerful men wanted to live near his people, hoping they might protect them against the Caribs. Forty-two men stayed behind, along with stocks of biscuits, wine, seeds, tools, arms, and sundry other items.
The Greatest Explorer in History
When Columbus arrived back in Barcelona, it was pandemonium: “The narrow streets were thronged with multitudes impatient to see him. Every terrace, and even the roofs of houses, covered with spectators.”
At court, Queen Isabella addressed him, “Don Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean and Viceroy of the New World.”
The queen hung on every word, “beaming with joy and admiration,” as he recounted his adventures.
Columbus told the monarchs about the New World, the soil, minerals, landscape, vegetables, and living creatures. He showed them many specimens and then brought in the seven Indians.
At the end of his presentation, the king, queen, and all their court suddenly got down on their knees, lifted their hands towards Heaven, and praised God. There was not a dry eye in the house.
For the Glory of God
Columbus would make three more voyages to the New World, discovering Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad (Holy Trinity), as well as many other Caribbean islands.
On his second voyage, Columbus went to meet those cannibals he had heard so much about, on one of their islands, Guadeloupe.
In one Carib home, he found a man's neck being cooked in a pot. In others, heads and limbs were hanging from the rafters, being cured. They enjoyed eating men but not women so much. Females were kept as sex slaves, and their offspring would be fattened up for future victuals.
In late 1494, Columbus received a missive from Queen Isabella, which has gone down in history as the first letter ever sent from the Old World to the New. It reads:
"We have great pleasure in learning the things you have written to us, and for all these things we render heartfelt thanks to our blessed Lord. We hope that, with His aid, this work, which is yours, will be the cause of our holy Catholic Faith receiving a great extension. And in all this, one of the chief satisfactions we enjoy is to feel that this enterprise has been conceived, explained, and executed by your genius, your ability, and your labor. And it appears to us that, since your first overtures, all that you have told us should arrive has been in the major part affected, with as much precision as if you had seen it accomplished before telling us of it."
Notice the glory of God and the expansion of His Church are always first in the correspondence between Columbus and Isabella.
All Was Not Well
However, all was not well. King Ferdinand was jealous of Columbus, as were most of the men at his court, mainly because he was a foreigner. The king was also resentful of his wife's apparent affections for Columbus. Besides, just as King Saul was jealous of his subjects’ adoration of David, Ferdinand was angry that Columbus had suddenly become more popular than he was among his subjects.
Another problem was that as Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he could not control what the men did that he left behind. The governor of Hispaniola, Pedro Margarit, defied Columbus by disobeying his orders in regards to the treatment of the native peoples. He allowed his men to steal from them, and they and he indulged in sensual appetites. There were no women among the explorers.
There were several occasions where the Indians attacked and massacred Spaniards. So these, naturally, brought vicious reprisals, including torture, mutilation, and murder.
Those horrors were not done while Columbus was present and not at his instigation but against his express orders. He saw Hispaniola stained with blood and grieved at the harm done to the natives. Many of them loved him and would sob whenever he would leave them. Columbus loved the Indians and felt like a father to them.
They Are Our Brothers
Unfortunately, unlike the first voyage, which was manned by hearty and experienced mariners, on the second trip the sovereigns insisted Columbus take with him many hidalgos, Spanish gentlemen, whose only interest was gold and who had no idea how rough life at sea can be.
Besides, Columbus was not given the quantity or quality of provisions he asked for, and what he got proved to be partly moldy. Most of the wine leaked out of poorly bound barrels. He was not provided with near enough medicine. Moreover, once in the New World, the tropical heat and incessant rain produced fatal fevers amongst his men.
While Columbus was himself sick, the unhappy hidalgos became rebellious under the leadership of one Bernal de Pisa. He wrote the royals a malicious report that the New World featured nothing but disease and death, declaring Columbus had deceived them.
When Columbus found out about this rebellion, he could have executed the rebels, which was the standard penalty for mutiny. Instead, “The Admiral conducted himself with great moderation. Several mutineers were punished but not with the severity that their offense deserved,” history records.
As Columbus sailed back to Spain to conclude his second journey, the food began to run out. His crew, struck by famine, “that horrible feeling that overcomes every tender sentiment,” wanted the thirty Indians with them either thrown overboard, so there would be fewer mouths to feed, or killed and eaten. Columbus stopped this nonsense, and protected the Indians, saying, “They are our brothers.”
The End Draws Near
The third voyage of Columbus was quite different because he was forced to take 200 felons, recruited from prisons, as his crew. The king and queen promised them pardons for their crimes, even rape, and murder if they would serve Columbus for two years.
Some of them rose in revolt, led by a man named Bobadilla, who put Columbus and his brothers in chains and shipped them back to Spain, accused of mismanaging the colony.
As soon as the shocked queen found out how Columbus had been mistreated, she was grief-stricken and immediately had him released, brought to court, and given 2,000 ducats as recompense. Isabella and Columbus wept together.
He would make one last journey before retiring to a monastery. Isabella died in 1504; Columbus in 1506. He is entombed at Santo Domingo (St. James), in the Dominican Republic.
Christopher Columbus: The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived
The Admiral of the Ocean doubled the known size of the Earth. There is something supernatural about the life of Christopher Columbus, particularly his voyages. He recognized God’s aid and expressed thanksgiving for it on countless occasions, calling himself merely the instrument of God’s Providence. It is striking that all of the great navigators were Christians.
The God of Heaven chose Columbus for His Mission. Columbus answered the call. He was a genius with a great soul, tenacious, with amazing powers of observation.
Columbus was an original, unlike any who came before him and unlike any since. His achievements are unequaled in human history. He changed the entire course of time.
What was the motivation of Christopher Columbus? “It was the Holy Trinity who excited in me the thought, rendering it more and more clear to me, that one could go by sea from the West to the East.”
Columbus lived in the presence of the Lord. It was God he fervently beseeched, to teach him, to guide him, all the days of his life. He loves nature because it is God's handiwork. He erects crosses everywhere he lands to honor the Redeemer. Before each expedition, we find him not pouring over maps and charts but in monasteries in long, quiet prayer and devotion. God chose Columbus as His Emissary of Salvation.
The man was a model of public virtue. He protected the weak, magnanimously bore the grudges of the jealous, did not complain about mistakes made by others, and was entirely wise about human nature, humbly withstood injustice after injustice done to his person and his name. We find no griping coming from Columbus, no matter what affliction befalls him.
Alexander von Humboldt summed him up this way: “What characterizes Columbus is the penetration and extreme accuracy with which he seizes the phenomena of the external world. He is quite remarkable as an observer of nature as he is an intrepid navigator. Arrived under new heavens, and in a new world, the configuration of the lands, the aspect of vegetation, the habits of animals, the distribution of heat according to longitude, the currents, the variations of terrestrial magnetism, nothing escaped his sagacity.”
President Ronald Reagan pronounced, “Columbus is justly admired as a brilliant navigator, a fearless man of action, a visionary who opened the eyes of an older world to an entirely new one. Above all, he personifies a view of the world that many see as quintessentially American.”
Columbus lived by and exhibited Faith, Hope, and Love. He was just, prudent, temperate, and brave. What man greater than Columbus? John the Baptist, I suppose. The Apostle Paul. The Apostle John. Moses and Solomon. That might be about it.
It is ultimately the Christianity of Columbus that makes him the target of hatred today, just as was and is our Lord.
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