I have my flag out. And I want to say a few things identifying what is praiseworthy about the man remembered for the 1492 voyage across the ocean blue.
Whatever people may believe now about Europeans bringing disease or other evils, in his heart
intended good—for those who sponsored his voyages, and for those he encountered
in his travels. Columbus
He had access to royalty, despite humble beginnings, because of his devoutness. According to his son Ferdinand, he caught the attention of Felipa Perestrello e Moniz, daughter of Portuguese nobles, while attending mass, because Christopher “behaved very honorably and was a man of handsome presence and one who never turned from the path of honesty” [Ferdinand Columbus, The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, p. 14]. Ferdinand also described him as “pleasant but dignified,” and “was so great an enemy to cursing and swearing [that he] never heard him utter any other oath than by ‘St. Ferdinand!’” [p. 9].
There were years when things weren’t going well. The Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, had a long war to fight in
to oust the Moors, and they couldn’t be distracted with attention or money
until they succeeded. That happened in the memorable year 1492 (and immediately
after the expulsion of Jews from Spain as well). Spain
gathered his crew, he went about it carefully. He normally would have selected
from the prisons, offering amnesty in exchange for the life-risking task of
manning the voyage. But Columbus
believed he would be better off with God-fearing men. He had only four
prisoners: a man who had killed someone during a quarrel, along with his three
friends who had attempted to rescue him from hanging. The men he took with him,
each one, before embarking on the trip home, recommitted himself to Christ. Columbus
The ships left August 3, 1492, and sailed 660 miles to the
Canary Islands, where they made repairs and resupplied
provisions. From here they left September 9th and made a course due
west, encountering smooth sailing with the trade winds most of the way. On the
way he changed course only twice during the entire 33 days. Note that the
longest voyage directly away from Europe prior
to this had been three weeks, so it took some doing to keep persuading the men
to stick with him. The men were fearful—that the wind would never allow them to
(miraculous calm assured them otherwise), and then that the winds wouldn’t
carry them to land (miraculous sea movement took care of this worry), and they
would never get there. The change in course, it is believed, brought them to
land a day sooner than they would have otherwise, which, when the men were on
the verge of mutiny, was crucial. Spain
The return trip was rather more dangerous, but he was able to keep his promise to the men that they would return.
believed he had been inspired in
choosing the route home. He recorded in his log January 14, 1493, “I have faith
in Our Lord that He who brought me here will lead me back in His pity and
mercy…no one else was supportive of me except God, because He knew my heart.” Columbus
Future voyages may have been sponsored because of the hope for gold and treasure (which he did indeed provide evidence of). But
spiritual desires. In outlining recommendations for colonizing Columbus Hispaniola, he suggested “that there be a church and
priests or friars [b sent] for the …observance of divine worship and the
conversion of the Indians.” And he suggested “that one per cent of all the gold
obtained be taken for the building of the churches and…for the maintenance of
the priests or friars” [Peter Marshall, The
Light and the Glory, p. 101, 105].
It is likely, maybe inevitable, that at some point someone would eventually cross the ocean. I believe the world is better off because
was that man.
His purpose was to follow God’s inspiration and to spread the word of Christ.
He did what he could to prevent conquest, enslavement, or other uncivilized
behaviors that could (and at some times and places later did) happen as a
result of his explorations. I continue to honor him. Columbus
(Note: The books cited above were cited in a chapter of our homeschool text, God’s Hand in the
Volume 1, from The Center for Educational Restoration.) Building of America