Christopher Columbus

Columbus found a world, and had no chart
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
To trust the soul's invincible surmise
Was all his science and his only art.

—George Santayana

Christopher Columbus was a deeply religious man. He spent time at a Franciscan Friary in Spain when he had all but failed in his career. It was there that he told Father Juan Perez of his vision to explore a route to the Far East. The purpose of his voyage would be “to carry the Name and doctrine of Jesus Christ into regions so distant.” Father Perez had a connection to Queen Isabelle and was able to convince the Queen to fund Columbus' expedition.

One of his three ships was named the Santa Maria after the Blessed Mother, and prior to setting sail, the crew attended Mass. They discovered land on October 12th, a Marian feast, and Columbus named the land San Salvador, or Holy Savior.

On his return voyage to America the following year, Columbus set sail upon the The Gracious Mary and had his crew recite the Angelus, a prayer to the Blessed Mother, three times a day. A group of island he discovered south of San Salvador he named the Virgin Islands, in honor of a group of Catholic saints.

Columbus' practices and devotions are certainly inspiring, but his faith put into action, as captured by the above poem, are even more so. Columbus believed in his heart that he was called by God to undertake this voyage. God calls us similarly: to be a priest, to have a family, to accept this job. We usually can sense the call, and this would be the “soul's invincible surmise.” May we trust that call and follow it, as Columbus did.

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