In the late sixteenth century, six Spanish Franciscans came to what is now the Georgia coast to minister to the native people called the Guale.
Between September 14th and September 17th, 1597, all but one were murdered.
Ask about old Spanish missions in America, and most people will think of the adobe churches from the late eighteenth century that span the coast of California. Yet these missions, however historic and celebrated, were by no means the first of their kind in what is now the United States.
A full two centuries before Bl. Junipero Serra preached to the Native Americans along the West Coast, his brother Franciscan friars from Spain were spreading the Gospel in what are now the southeastern states.
Before the founding of the first permanent English colony in America or the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock (1620), first Jesuits and then Franciscans established missions in what are now Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. They labored with remarkable courage and devotion to evangelize native peoples of the region, and tens of thousands were baptized, catechized, and provided the sacraments.
Their mission base was a Spanish settlement on the Florida peninsula, St. Augustine – the oldest still-inhabited city in America, founded in 1565. It was here in La Florida, as the Spanish called the colony, that the Christian faith first took root in the lands that today form the United States.
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O Lord Jesus Christ, reward the apostolic zeal of Friar Pedro de Corpa and his four companion friars, Blas, Miguel, Antonio and Francisco, who labored for the spiritual well-being of the native Guale people of Georgia and gave their lives in witness to the Christian faith.
Through their merits and intercession graciously grant the favor I humbly ask of You, so that, for the glory of Your Name, their heroic sacrifice may be officially recognized by the Church. Amen.