November 30—St. Andrew, Apostle

Ps 138:17
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principatus eórum.

Ps 138:1-2
Dómine, probásti me et cognovísti me: tu cognovísti sessiónem meam et resurrectiónem meam.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principatus eórum.

To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
Ps 138:1-2
O Lord, You have probed me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

November 30.—ST. ANDREW, Apostle

ST. ANDREW was one of the fishermen of Bethsaida, and brother, perhaps elder brother, of St. Peter, and became a disciple of St. John Baptist. He seemed always eager to bring others into notice; when called himself by Christ on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to go in search of his brother, and he said, “We have found the Messias,” and he brought him to Jesus. It was he again who, when Christ wished to feed the five thousand in the desert, pointed out the little lad with the five loaves and fishes. St. Andrew went forth upon his mission to plant the Faith in Scythia and Greece, and at the end of years of toil to win a martyr’s crown. After suffering a cruel scourging at Patræ in Achaia, he was left, bound by cords, to die upon a cross. When St. Andrew first caught sight of the gibbet on which he was to die, he greeted the precious wood with joy. “O good cross! ” he cried, “made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He Who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee.” Two whole days the martyr remained hanging on this cross alive, preaching, with outstretched arms from this chair of truth, to all who came near, and entreating them not to hinder his passion.

Reflection.—If we would do good to others, we must, like St. Andrew, keep close to the cross.


Maiestátem tuam, Dómine, supplíciter exorámus: ut, sicut Ecclésiæ tuæ beátus Andréas Apóstolus éxstitit prædicátor et rector; ita apud te sit pro nobis perpétuus intercéssor.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

We humbly pray Your majesty, O Lord, that, as blessed Andrew was a preacher and ruler in Your Church, so he may always intercede for us with You.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.


Matt 4:18-22
In illo témpore: Ambulans Iesus iuxta mare Galilaeæ, vidit duos fratres, Simónem, qui vocátur Petrus, et Andréam fratrem eius, mitténtes rete in mare – erant enim piscatóres – et ait illis: Veníte post me, et fáciam vos fíeri piscatóres hóminum. At illi contínuo, relíctis rétibus, secúti sunt eum. Et procédens inde, vidit álios duos fratres, Iacóbum Zebedaei et Ioánnem, fratrem eius, in navi cum Zebedaeo patre eórum reficiéntes rétia sua: et vocávit eos. Illi autem statim, relíctis rétibus et patre, secúti sunt eum.


At that time, as Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen -. And He said to them, Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And at once they left the nets, and followed Him. And going farther on, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And immediately they left their nets and their father, and followed him


November 29—St. Saturninus, Martyr

Ier 29:11; 29:12; 29:14
Dicit Dóminus: Ego cógito cogitatiónes pacis, et non afflictiónis: invocábitis me, et ego exáudiam vos: et redúcam captivitátem vestram de cunctis locis.

The Lord says: “I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places.”

November 29.—ST. SATURNINUS, Martyr.

SATURNINUS went from Rome, by direction of Pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul. He fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse, and thus became the first Christian bishop of that city. There were but few Christians in the place. However, their number grew fast after the coming of the Saint; and his power was felt by the spirits of evil, who received the worship of the heathen. His power was felt the more because he had to pass daily through the capitol, the high place of the heathen worship, on the way to his own church. One day a great multitude was gathered by an altar, where a bull stood ready for the sacrifice. A man in the crowd pointed out Saturninus, who was passing by, and the people would have forced him to idolatry; but the holy bishop answered: “I know but one God, and to Him I will offer the sacrifice of praise. How can I fear gods who, as you say, are afraid of me?” On this he was fastened to the bull, which was driven down the capitol. The brains of the Saint were

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scattered on the steps. His mangled body was taken up and buried by two devout women.

Reflection.—When beset by the temptations of the devil, let us call upon the Saints, who reign with Christ. They were powerful during their lives against the devil and his angels. They are more powerful now that they have passed from the Church on earth to the Church triumphant.


Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, tuórum fidélium voluntátes: ut, divíni óperis fructum propénsius exsequéntes; pietátis tuæ remédia maióra percípiant.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

O Lord, we beseech You, arouse the wills of Your faithful people that, by a more earnest search for the fruit of Your divine work, they may receive more abundantly of the healing effects of Your goodness.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

November 28th – St. James of La Marca of Ancona


The small town of Montbrandon, in the Marca of Ancona, gave birth to this Saint. When young he was sent to the University of Perugia, where his progress in learning soon qualified him to be chosen preceptor to a

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young gentleman of Florence. Fearing that he might be ingulfed in the whirlpool of world excesses, St. James applied himself to prayer and recollection. When travelling near Assisium he went into the great Church of the Portiuncula to pray, and being animated by the fervor of the holy men who there served God, and by the example of their blessed founder St. Francis, he determined to petition in that very place for the habit of the Order. He began his spiritual war against the devil, the world, and the flesh, with assiduous prayer and extraordinary fasts and watchings. For forty years he never passed a day without taking the discipline. Being chosen Archbishop of Milan, he fled, and could not be prevailed on to accept the office. He wrought several miracles at Venice and at other places, and raised from dangerous sicknesses the Duke of Calabria and the King of Naples. The Saint died in the convent of the Holy Trinity of his Order, near Naples, on the 28th of November, in the year 1476, being ninety years old, seventy of which he had spent in a religious state.



Dicit Dóminus: Ego cógito cogitatiónes pacis, et non afflictiónis: invocábitis me, et ego exáudiam vos: et redúcam captivitátem vestram de cunctis locis.

The Lord says: “I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places.”



Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, tuórum fidélium voluntátes: ut, divíni óperis fructum propénsius exsequéntes; pietátis tuæ remédia maióra percípiant.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Let us pray.
O Lord, we beseech You, arouse the wills of Your faithful people that, by a more earnest search for the fruit of Your divine work, they may receive more abundantly of the healing effects of Your goodness.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Feast of the Miraculous Medal – November 27th

There are scores of stories that go with the Miraculous Medal.  A solid resource is the book “Miraculous Medal: It’s Origin, Circulation, & Results” found here

A couple stories that are more famous

Recall that Zachary King attests that the miraculous medal converted him from his way of life.

Here is an account of Claude Newman’s story that the posted sermon is about:

Born in Stuttgart, Arkansas, Claude Newman (1923-1944) was an illiterate, black sharecropper raised by his grandmother, Ellen Newman, of Bovina, Mississippi.

In 1939, Mrs. Newman married a man named Sid Cook who repeatedly sexually and physically abused her. This angered Claude.

In 1940, at the age of 17, Claude found employment as a farmhand on Ceres Plantation in Bovina, Mississippi and got married.

On Dec. 19, 1942, egged on by his friend Elbert Harris, Claude lay in waiting at Sid Cook’s house. By this time, Sid and Claude’s grandmother had separated. As soon as Sid entered his home, Claude shot and killed him, took his money and fled to his mother’s house in Arkansas two days later.

In January, 1943, law enforcement captured Claude and returned him to Vicksburg, Mississippi. He confessed to the crime but his lawyer, Harry K. Murray, urged the court to reject his confession as being coerced. Despite this, Claude was found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair. An appeal to retry the case was rejected and he was scheduled to be executed on January 20, 1944.

Prison chaplain Fr. Robert O’Leary (1911-1984)—no relation to the current pastor of St. Mary’s whom I interviewed—came to know Claude very well during the latter’s imprisonment. While on death row, Claude shared a cellblock with four other prisoners. One night, as the five men sat talking, Claude noticed a Miraculous Medal around his fellow prisoner’s neck.

Curious, he asked the man as to its meaning. The man either didn’t want to speak or was otherwise furious at Claude’s question. He gave it to Claude, who picked it up and placed it around his own neck without fully understanding its significance.

During that night, some sources say, Claude was awakened with a gentle touch upon his wrist. He awoke to find, as he later explained to Fr. O’Leary, “the most beautiful woman that God ever created.”

Shocked at the appearance of this woman in his prison cell, Claude panicked but the mysterious Lady calmed Claude saying, “If you would like me to be your Mother, and you would like to be my child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church.”

At that, the apparition disappeared.

Claude started yelling “A ghost! A ghost!” and demanded to see a Catholic priest.

Fr. O’Leary was called first thing the next morning and met with Claude who nervously told the priest what he experienced the previous night.

Moved by the experience, Claude and his cellmates asked to be received into the Catholic Church.

As part of the catechetical instruction, Fr. O’Leary came to understand that Claude was completely illiterate and knew almost nothing about Christianity. He believed in God’s existence but knew nothing else―not even that Jesus is God.

A few days later, two religious sisters from Fr. O’Leary’s parish-school visited the prison. They were intrigued to speak to Claude about his remarkable experience. During the same trip, the sisters met some of the women held in the prison. Several of those prisoners had heard about Claude’s experience through the prison grapevine and asked the sisters for instruction so that they too might become Catholic.

Several weeks passed, and Fr. O’Leary came to the point of needing to teach the catechumens about the Sacrament of Confession. The sisters sat in on the class.

The priest introduced the sacrament when Claude interrupted him saying, “Oh, I know about that! The Lady told me that when we go to Confession, we’re kneeling down not in front of a priest, but in front of the Cross of her Son. And that when we’re truly sorry for our sins, and confess them, the Blood He shed flows down over us and washes us free from all sins.”

Fr. O’Leary and the sisters sat in perfect stunned silence. Claude mistook their shock for anger and furiously apologized.

“Oh, don’t be angry! Don’t be angry!” he pleaded. “I didn’t mean to just yell that out!”

Overcome with emotion, the priest replied, “We’re not angry, Claude. We’re just surprised. Have you seen the Lady again?”

Claude pulled the priest aside not wanting his cellmates to hear what he was about to say.

When they were alone, Claude whispered, “She told me that if you doubted me, I was supposed to remind you that you made a vow to her while you were lying in a ditch in Holland in 1940 during the war. She said she’s still waiting for you to keep your vow.”

Fr. O’Leary later related, “Claude then told me precisely what the vow was.”

Claude’s revelation absolutely convinced Fr. O’Leary that Claude was telling the truth.

Apparently, Fr. O’Leary had promised the Blessed Virgin Mary that he would build a church in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. The priest was later able to do exactly that in 1947 when he was transferred to Clarksdale, Mississippi to serve a black parish in need of a church building. The Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi had been sent $5000 by Boston Archbishop Cushing for the Negro missions. The money was exactly what was needed to build the church for which the Blessed Virgin Mary had been waiting.

Stunned, Fr. O’Leary returned with Claude to the discussion on Confession. Claude reminded his fellow prisoners, “Don’t be afraid of going to Confession. You’re really telling God your sins, not the priest. You know, the Lady said that Confession is something like a telephone. We talk through the priest to God, and God talks back to us through the priest.”

A week later, Fr. O’Leary was preparing to teach the prisoners about the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters were again present for this lesson as well. Unbidden, Claude spoke.

“The Lady told me that in Communion, I’ll see what looks like a piece of bread but she told me that it’s really and truly her Son, and that He’ll be with me just as He was with the Lady before He was born in Bethlehem. She told me that I should spend my time like she did during her lifetime with Him―in loving Him, adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him and asking Him for blessings. I shouldn’t be distracted or bothered by anybody else or anything else. Instead, I should spend that thinking about Him.”

After this period of catechesis, Claude and his cellmates and the women prisoners were received into the Catholic Church. Claude took the name Claude Jude. The baptismal log at St. Mary’s parish in Vicksburg records his baptism as being on January 16, 1944.  Fr. O’Leary officiated and Sr. Bena Henken, SSpS, was Claude’s sponsor. Fr. Malcolm O’Leary, the current pastor of the parish, verified this for me when I interviewed him.

Claude’s execution was scheduled for 12:05 AM on January 20, 1944―just four days later.

As a last request, Claude wanted cake and ice cream for himself and his fellow prisoners saying, “All of my friends are all shook up. The jailer is all shook up. But you don’t understand. I’m not going to die; only this body is going to die. I’m going to be with the Lady. So then, I’d like to have a party.”

Though the warden was initially reluctant, Fr. O’Leary persuaded him to accept the generosity of a wealthy patron of the parish who generously supplied the ice cream and cake for the convicts’ party.

After the party, Claude requested a Holy Hour with a recital of the Stations of the Cross.

The prisoner received the Viaticum moments prior to his execution and Fr. O’Leary prayed with the condemned man.

Fifteen minutes prior to the execution, Sheriff Williamson halted the procedure, citing that the governor had given Claude a two-week reprieve. Unbeknownst to Claude and Fr. O’Leary, the sheriff and the District Attorney were secretly trying to get a stay of execution for Claude to save his life. However, when Claude found out, he started to cry saying, “But you don’t understand! If you ever saw her face, and looked into her eyes, you wouldn’t want to live another day!”

Claude lamented, “What have I done wrong these past weeks that God would refuse me my going home?”

Fr. O’Leary later testified that Claude sobbed as one who was completely brokenhearted.

The priest had a sudden inspiration and reminded Claude of a fellow prisoner, James Samuel Hughs, a white prisoner similarly on death row, who hated Claude intensely. Hughs was an ex-Catholic and a convicted murderer.

“Maybe Our Blessed Mother wants you to offer this denial of being with her for Hugh’s conversion,” offered Fr. O’Leary. “Why don’t you offer to God every moment that you are separated from your heavenly Mother for this prisoner, so that he won’t be separated from God for all eternity.”

Two weeks later, Claude was finally put to death by the electric chair on Feb. 4, 1944, having offered the intervening time for the expiation of the sins of the reprobate James Hughs. (Coincidently, Mildred Johnson was also executed for murder in Vicksburg on that same day. She, too, had become a Catholic through the ministrations of the nuns from St. Mary’s parish.)

Fr. O’Leary later testified to journalists and his fellow priests, and to the current pastor of St. Mary’s (who was a seminarian when the two met): “I’ve never seen anyone go to his death as joyfully and happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn’t understand how anyone could go and sit in the electric chair while at the same time actually beaming with happiness.”

Claude had his favorite dessert, coconut pie, on the night before he died. His last words to Fr. O’Leary were, “Father, I’ll remember you. Whenever you have a request, ask me, and I’ll ask her.”

Claude’s death notice was printed in the Vicksburg Evening News on the day of his execution. He was buried in the historic African-American Beulah Cemetery in Vicksburg.

On May 19, 1944, three months later, James Hughs was scheduled to be executed for his crimes. Fr. O’Leary said of him, “This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across. His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description.”

He refused to speak with any clergyman and showed no remorse for his crimes.

Once strapped into the electric chair, he was asked if he had any last words. At that, he let lose a stream of the vilest invective and blasphemies.

Suddenly, Hughs froze as if in horror staring off at the corner of the room. He screams pierced the otherwise respectful silence of the execution chamber. He begged the sheriff to fetch a priest.

Fr. O’Leary came forward and the execution chamber was cleared so that the two might speak privately.

Hughs gave his confession, suddenly remorseful of his past life and the murders he had committed.

Apparently, Hughs had experienced two visions while strapped in the electric chair. The first was of Claude Newman who stood before the Blessed Virgin Mary, her hand resting upon his shoulder. Claude only spoke once saying, “I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift of seeing your place in Hell if you don’t repent.”

The second vision was of Hughs’ final disposition if he refused to repent.

James Hughs was executed as soon as he had finished his Confession and given the Viaticum.

Now, even if we were to presume that our Lady’s apparition wasn’t true, even though we have no proof that Claude Newman had lied about it, the burden of proof for all of the rest of these events lies upon the skeptic:

  • Why did Claude convert to the Church having never been catechized ever before?
  • Why was his testimony so powerful as to then be able to convert several other inmates?
  • Why was Claude saddened at word of his reprieve?
  • How did Claude know so much about the sacraments despite his ignorance about every other aspect of Christianity?
  • How did he know about Fr. Robert O’Leary’s secret vow to the Blessed Virgin Mary?
  • Why was Claude’s conversion enough to convert James Hughs, who was otherwise not given to repentance, let alone spiritual considerations?

Frankly, I was skeptical of the above story until I spoke with Fr. Malcolm O’Leary who admitted that he was given to believing it.

But, does it matter? Whether the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared or not, she was still present in that cell. Why wouldn’t she be—five of her children were there as well. In addition, a soul was saved and that saved soul saved others in turn.

As Stuart Chase pointed out, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” But, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, “Trust, but verify.” No matter where you fall upon the spectrum of credulity, you might consider looking up the March, 2001 issue of The Catholic Family News in which appears John Vennari’s article entitled, “The True Account of Prisoner Claude Newman (1944).” This article is taken from Fr. Robert O’Leary’s 1960’s radio broadcast testimony.


And here is the famous conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne:

Alphonse Ratisbonne was a young Jew from a family of well-established bankers in Strasbourg, France. He also was socially prominent due to his wealth and blood-ties to the Rothschild.

In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse, born in 1814.

Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered, had already finished his law degree and was engaged to a young Jewess, his niece. He was twenty-seven years old and, before marrying, he wanted to travel on holiday to Italy and the East. Upon his return, he planned to marry and take on his responsibilities in his family’s banking business.
God, however, had other plans for him in Rome.

Alphonse was not a practicing Jew. He nourished a profound hatred for the Catholic Church, especially because of the resentment his whole family had due to their first-born’s defection. Alphonse said he would never change religion. But if one day he were to change, he would become a Protestant, never a Catholic.
While in Rome, Ratisbonne visited works of art, as well as some Catholic churches, out of cultural curiosity. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance.

He also visited an old schoolmate and close friend named Gustave de Bussières. Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. In Gustave’s house, Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron Thèodore de Bussières, who had just recently converted to Catholicism. Baron Thèodore, in turn, was a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of these two circumstances, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

Thus it was only on the eve of his departure that he reluctantly resolved to fulfill his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.
Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away. The Baron’s Italian servant, however, did not understand his French and showed him into the parlor while he went to call the Baron. The latter greeted the young Jew and immediately established cordial relations, while trying to attract him to the Catholic Faith.

With much insistence, he was able to persuade Alphonse to delay his departure from Rome in order to attend a ceremony to be held at Saint Peter’s Basilica. He further succeeded in persuading Ratisbonne to accept a Miraculous Medal and to promise to copy down a very beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Had this not been inspired by grace, it would have been utterly indiscreet.

The Jew could hardly contain his anger at the Baron’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, hoping, as he later declared, to write a book about his travels. In this book, the Baron would appear as nothing more than an eccentric man.

On January 18, a close friend of the Baron de Bussières died. He was Count de La Ferronays, the former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety. On the eve of his sudden death, La Ferronays was talking to Bussières about Ratisbonne and, at the request of Bussières, prayed the Memorare one hundred times for his conversion. It is even possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young banker.

Around midday on January 20, the Baron de Bussières went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his deceased friend’s funeral to be held the following day. Ratisbonne reluctantly went along making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived at the church, the Baron left him alone for a few minutes and entered the sacristy to see about the funeral arrangements. Alphonse decided to look around and went up one of the side aisles since he could not cross over due to the preparations for the Count’s funeral in the central nave.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, he did not find Alphonse where he had left him. After much searching, he found him on the other side of the Church kneeling close to an altar, weeping. He no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism.

Ratisbonne himself tells us what happened in those few minutes:
“I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel and as if saying ‘very good!’ Although she did not say anything, I understood everything.”

Ratisbonne never could explain how, being in one of the lateral naves before the apparition, he was found in the other, since the central nave was obstructed. However, in face of the magnitude of the miracle of his conversion, this was but a detail.

The news of such an unexpected conversion, so fulminating and complete, immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe.

2015_Alphonse_Ratisbonne_his_brother_Theodore The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Alphonse (right) and his brother Theodore founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion for the conversion of Jews.

Pope Gregory XVI wished to meet the young convert and received him paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with all the rigor required by canon law. The conclusion was that it was truly an authentic miracle.
Having taken the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, Ratisbonne wished to become a Jesuit and was ordained in 1847. After a while and at the suggestion of Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews.
Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem he bought a plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood. Here he established a house of the congregation. The two brothers died in 1884, both with the fame of exceptional virtues.

Missions & Martyrs in these united States before Jamestown, 1607

Did you Know?

By the time the Pilgrims landed in 1620, Spanish Catholic missionaries had converted & baptized more than 50,000 American Indians.  (This is counting those only in present US boundaries).  There were more than 80 Catholic mission-settlements in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, the southwest, & upper New England

Martyrs before Jamestown was Established

  • 1542, Fr Juan Padilla, OFM (Kansas)
  • 1542, Fr Luis Escalona, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1542, Fr Juan de la Cruz (New Mexico)
  • 1549, Fr Luis Cancer, OP (Florida)
  • 1549, Fr Diego Tolosa, OP (Florida)
  • 1549, Fr Hermano Fuentes, OP (Florida)
  • 1553, Fr Diego de la Crus (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Juan Mena, OP (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Juan Ferrer, OP (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Hernando Mendez, OP (Texas)
  • 1566, Fr Pedro Martinez, SJ (Florida)
  • 1570, Fr Juan B Mendez, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Fr Luis Quiros, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Fr Juan B Segura, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Gabriel Solis, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Pedro Linares, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Cristo Redondo, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Sanchez Ceballos, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Gabriel Gomez, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1581, Fr Francisco Lopez, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1581, Fr Agustin Rodriguez, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1581, Fr Juan de Maria, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1597, Fr Pedro de Corpa, OFM (Georgia)
  • 1597, Fr Migual Anon, OFM (Georgia)


Missions before Jamestown was Established


  • Mission of Guatari – 1566 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Santa Elena – 1568 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Escamacu – 1570 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Joada – 1574 (North Carolina)


  • Mission of Guale -1568
  • Mission in 1570
  • Mission of San Pedro – 1585
  • Mission of Santa Catalina – 1585
  • Mission of San Buenaventura – 1587
  • Mission of Santo Domingo – 1587
  • Mission of Guadalupe – 1595
  • Mission of Santa Clara – 1595
  • Four missions in 1597
  • Mission of Santa Maria de Sena – 1602
  • Mission of San Antonio – 1602
  • Mission of Santiago Ocone – 1602
  • Mission of San Jose Zapala – 1602

(Facts taken from the book “Discovering a Lost Heritage: the Catholic Origins of America” by Adam Miller)

The Real First Thanksgiving

The event of the first Thanksgiving in this land is not that which was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, as the vast majority of Americans have been taught. The first Thanksgiving to the one true God was celebrated eighty years before the Pilgrims’ feast. It occurred during the expedition of the Catholic conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado.

Beginning in 1539, Francisco Coronado organized a large expedition from Mexico, which included five Franciscan missionaries. He brought with him 336 soldiers and settlers, 100 native Mexican Christians, 552 horses, 600 mules, 5000 sheep, and 500 cows, pigs, and goats. (This marked the introduction of these animals into the southwestern United States.) The expedition arrived in what is now Arizona and found Indian pueblos. After establishing a base in Arizona, Coronado headed east to establish a base-mission near present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico. When they crossed the river which is now called the Rio Grande, they named it Rio de Nuestra Señora (the River of Our Lady). This is its original name as it appeared on the first maps of the region.

Though no “cities of gold” were found, Coronado continued to send out expeditions — and missionaries with them. That there were missionaries on every expedition should tell us that the search for supposed “golden cities” was not the primary reason for Coronado’s ventures. (The gold was needed to fund expeditions and was not sought for personal gain.) Spreading the one true Faith among the pagan native Indians was of primary importance.

In April of 1541, Coronado, with a group of soldiers and some missionaries, left Albuquerque, New Mexico, headed northeast, and crossed a section of what is now northwest Texas (the Panhandle). In encountering some of the local Indians, the missionaries found that the natives were immediately open to receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a few weeks of instruction, members of the Jumano Indian tribe converted and received Baptism. The expedition then arrived in Palo Duro Canyon where, on May 29, Father Juan Padilla, O.F.M., offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Father Padilla would eventually become the very first martyr of the Faith in America when he was killed in 1542, in what is now Kansas.) A Thanksgiving feast followed the Mass. It consisted of game that had earlier been caught. The feast was celebrated in thanksgiving to God for His many blessings and for the recent converts. This event is the first actual Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the future United States.

Father Juan Padilla (New Mexican Preservation League)

Father Juan Padilla and the First Thanksgiving (New Mexican Preservation League)

There was another Thanksgiving celebration which occurred years before the Pilgrims landed. In 1598, Catholic explorer Juan de Oñate led an expedition from Mexico City into New Mexico. The expedition included over 200 soldiers and colonists, the soldiers being headed by Captain Gaspar Perez de Villagra. Many had their families with them. A number of Christian Indian converts with their families from Mexico were also in the party. With the group were several thousand head of livestock, including cows, horses, mules, sheep, goats, and pigs. Eighty-three wagons carried provisions, ammunition, tools, plants, and seeds for wheat, oats, rye, onions, chili, peas, beans, and different nuts.

On the expedition were eight Franciscan friars: two priests and six brothers. The party experienced many hardships. Soon after entering New Mexico, just across the Rio de Nuestra Señora, they were attacked by hostile Indians near present-day El Paso, Texas. A number of wagons and numerous head of livestock were lost, but no members of the expedition were killed. The same was not true for the attacking Indians, a number of whom died.

Moving a little farther up along the river, Juan de Oñate and the Franciscans erected a large cross, and Oñate took possession of the land. He declared: “I want to take possession of this land today, April 30, 1598, in honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day of the Ascension of Our Lord.”

Immediately afterward a High Mass was offered in thanksgiving. Then the entire group gathered for a banquet of thanksgiving to God for protecting them and for allowing them to arrive at the place after so many hardships along the way. The festive meal consisted of fish, game, fruits, and vegetables. After this Thanksgiving banquet, the expedition headed further up along the river and by June had established the mission-town of San Juan (still populated to this day).

Though there was a Thanksgiving Feast celebrated in 1541, as we earlier saw, it was never commemorated afterward. In contrast, for some years after the Thanksgiving Feast of 1598, a feast was celebrated by the Spanish and the Christian Indians of New Mexico in thanks to the true God for bringing them through many hardships and for His blessings. Today this Thanksgiving Feast is commemorated in San Juan on the thirtieth day of April every year. (You can read more on this here)

It is only now that we can turn to the story of the Pilgrims and their Thanksgiving. After a long and harsh winter, the Pilgrims received help from the Wampanoag Indians in planting crops during the spring of 1621. They worked hard and in autumn had a very good harvest. In November of 1621 they invited the local Indians, who were still pagan and worshipped false gods, to feast with them and give thanks to God for the blessings of a successful harvest. The Catholic student of history should recognize that it is impossible to give thanks to the same God, let alone the true God, when those involved believe in different gods. But this apparently didn’t bother anyone. The event was not celebrated yearly by the Pilgrims, as many think, nor by anyone in the original thirteen colonies for years. Though George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving while he was President, it was not celebrated as a yearly holiday feast until Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a holiday in November.

So now we know that the Pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America. The first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated back in 1598, in New Mexico, by Spanish-Catholic colonists and Indian converts to the Faith. They thanked the true God for bringing them safely through many troubles and dangers and for the fact that the seed of the Gospel of Christ was beginning to take root. Because of the often anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic prejudice of English-speaking Protestants, generations of Americans have never learned this fact of our history.

(Taken from the Discovering a Lost Heritage: The Catholic Origins of America by Adam Miller, Marian Publications, Inc.)