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Learning Gratitude from Columbus

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

On October 12, 1492, after running out of food and water crossing the Atlantic, Christopher Columbus and his crews were overjoyed to find land—a tiny island in the Caribbean. Going ashore and thanking God, Columbus named the island San Salvador (“Holy Savior”).

For what else did Columbus express gratitude during his life? Scroll down for a few excerpts from Columbus' writings (extracts from Libro de las proficias of Christopher Columbus):

“At a very early age I began to sail upon the ocean. For more than forty years, I have sailed everywhere that people go. I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology, and philosophy."

“It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination, from the Holy Scriptures...encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste."

“Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the whole people of God. I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up. But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Savior Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy shall come to pass."

“I said that I would state my reasons: I hold alone to the sacred and Holy Scriptures, and to the interpretations of prophesy given by certain devout persons."

“It is possible that those who see this book will accuse me of being unlearned in literature, of being a layman and a sailor. I reply with the words of Matthew 11:25: 'Lord, because thou has hid things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.'”

“I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolations since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy his marvelous presence."

“For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. All this is what I desire to write down for you in this book."

“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to his sovereign will even though He gives advice. He lacks nothing that it is in the power of men to give him. Oh what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds himself responsible! Day and night moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude."

“I said that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled. There are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end. The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time—this is what convinces me.”

(Columbus’ ‘The Book of Prophecies’ was first published in English in 1991 by Delno C. West and August Kling. Look for it under Libro de las proficias of Christopher Columbus.)

It is interesting to note that Columbus was essentially forgotten for centuries. 1592, the 100th anniversary of his discovery, came and went, 1692 did as well. In 1792, just a few short years after a new republic, called the United States of America, had just been established, a few people remembered him. But it wasn’t until 1893, at the Chicago World Expo (named for Columbus), that he was well and truly remembered with gratitude here in America (see Libraries of Hope and writings of Bill Federer).

It is also interesting to contrast Columbus’s personal writings with the writings of his political adversaries and mortal enemies of the day. All are “source documents,” and tell very different stories. People of the Americas remember Columbus with gratitude, not because he was a perfect man, or because he lived in the same way we do today, but because his faith-filled journeys across the ocean led to the establishment of freedom--freedom that still draws millions of immigrants to America today.

Countless cities, universities, streets, and provinces/countries (British Columbia, Colombia) are named after Christopher Columbus. Our own U.S. Capital is named for him: Washington, District of Columbia.


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