Jesus Christ Savior | The first Mass of Thanksgiving on North American soil was actually celebrated by the Spanish with the Timucuan Indians from Seloy village in attendance on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida.

Christopher Columbus reached America in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Following the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon in 1513, St. Augustine, Florida became the first permanent European settlement in North America in 1565, from which missionaries spread Catholicism to the Native American Indians. The first Mass of Thanksgiving on North American soil was actually celebrated by the Spanish with the Timucuan Indians from Seloy village in attendance on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. Spanish explorations extended as far as Santa Fe, New Mexico, established in 1609.

A wave of explorations to the New World continued. Jamestown was founded by the British in May of 1607, and the Anglican Church of England was established in Virginia. Samuel de Champlain explored the St. Lawrence River and founded Quebec, Canada for Catholic France in July of 1608. Henry Hudson sailed for the Dutch East India Company and explored the river that bears his name in September of 1609; the Dutch Reformed Church was established in New Amsterdam after the Netherlands purchased Manhattan in 1626.

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

Christianity continued to thrive in the New World as our young Nation developed. Four of the original 13 English colonies were specifically chartered for religious freedom, as a refuge from religious persecution in England at the time. William Bradford and the Pilgrim Congregationalists arrived on the Mayflower at Cape Cod in 1620 and the Calvinist John Winthrop and the Puritan Protestants in 1629 in Massachusetts. Lord Baltimore George Calvert and his son Cecil Calvert received a charter for the Catholics in 1632, and Cecil’s younger brother Leonard Calvert arrived on the Ark and Dove in Maryland in 1634. The settlers soon enacted the Toleration Act of Maryland and founded St. Mary’s Chapel in St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Roger Williams established a Church for the Baptists in Providence, Rhode Island in 1638. William Penn and the Quakers settled in 1682 in Pennsylvania. The Mennonites also moved to Pennsylvania in 1683 at the invitation of William Penn. The universal toleration offered in Pennsylvania continued to attract groups such as the Amish, Moravian Pietists, and Presbyterians. Early American writings reflect the Christian Heritage of our nation, the United States of America.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

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