Columbus, Courageous Catholic

Columbus, Courageous Catholic

This is an excerpt from a short piece on Christopher Columbus, in honor of tomorrow’s holiday.

On December 13, 1502, at the height of the confusion, a shriek burst forth from one of the ships, and was echoed by the other three. A typhoon, horror of the deep, a deadly wind whipped into a water-spout – woe to those who meet it on the ocean lanes.

The despairing cry of the crew struck to the very soul of Columbus; he shuddered; he called from his bed below; he groaned, as with super�human effort he rolled out of bed, staggered to his feet, and clutched his way to the deck. A devil’s trick, thought he; would that the chaplain, Father Alexander, had not died; the powers of good must overcome this evil of the deep.

He would recite the last Gospel of the Mass. He ordered candles lit and their flag unfurled; he buckled on his sword beneath the cord of St. Francis, which was always a part of his dress. He took the Bible and faced the onrushing monster. In a voice that could be heard above the howling elements, Columbus repeated the beloved Disciple’s inspired and inspir�ing words.

At the sentence, “And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us,” he drew his sword, stretched soul and body to the full stature of his faith, and made in the air, in the very teeth of the typhoon, the holy sign of the cross. As a tiny wave is broken by the hand of man, so the hand of God turned the towering water-spout from its track, broke and scattered it over the ocean.

Turn back in the discoverer’s life to that day of the first departure. We see 120 men paced by Columbus, marching toward the monastary of La Rabida. He was leading the crews of his three sailing vessels to receive Holy Communion from the Franciscan Friar, Father Perez, the former confessor of Queen Isabella of Spain, he who had persuaded the powers that were to outfit the ships and crew who were to set out tomorrow over the trackless Atlantic.

Almost all of this is new to me. Why didn’t we learn about this Columbus in school? Go here to read the whole piece. This is the Columbus I want Bella to learn about when she studies the discovery of America. Not Columbus the hypocrite; but Columbus the hero.


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