Christopher Columbus, Part I – November 25, 2008

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |


October 12 was Columbus Day. It was ignored in the midst of Obama mania and the super-heated election campaigns. But with Thanksgiving in a couple of days, it’s vital to remember and reflect upon the founding of our country and what made it great. Before we remember the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the Quakers, the Presbyterians, the French Hugenots, etc., we must remember Christopher Columbus.

Who was he? Why did he work so hard for such a long time to sail across the ocean in search of a new trade route to India? Why didn’t he give up after a couple of years? What drove him? Why him and not someone else? Why at that particular time did he finally have success in getting funding and permission to sail? Was he destined to discover America and for what purpose?

Documents still in existence prove that Christofor Colombo was born in Genoa, Italy (or the Genoese Republic at the time). But his ancestry wasn’t Italian. Spanish scholar Salvador de Madariaga wrote in his biography, “Christopher Columbus, Being the Life of The Very Magnificent Lord Don Cristobal Colon, ” that his ancestors were Spanish Jews who were driven out of Catalonia in 1391 during anti-Jewish riots. Murderous attacks against the Jews of Seville on March 15 and again on June 4, 1391 killed 4,000 men, women and children and subsequently spread to other cities in Spain. In all, about 50,000 Jews lost their lives in the anti-Semitic massacres that swept through the country.

Some Jews made the life-saving choice to convert to Christianity and were accepted by the Catholic Church. They were called Conversos. The records of Genoa, where Columbus’ family settled, show the names as Domenico Colombo, his wife Susanna Fontanarossa, and their sons, Cristoforo, Bartholomeo, Giacomo (Diego) and a daughter, Bianchinetta. The records date back to Christopher’s grandfather, Giovanni, who was the first converso in his family. Christopher was the third generation in his family to be a Christian. From his diary, it is evident that he took it very seriously.

The family name in Spanish is Colon and Christopher was never called by the English translation. He would have been presented to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand as Cristobal Colon. “Christopher” means “Christ-bearer” and “Colon” means, in Hebrew, “Jonah” and in English, “dove”. In the Bible, the dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit and was the messenger sent out by Noah from the Ark to find evidence of dry land. Jonah was thrown over-board from a ship, swallowed by a large sea creature and deposited upon dry land, before deciding to obey God’s command to take His message to Nineveh.

Christopher was “divinely” named, as he was a “Christ-bearer” and a messenger of God like Jonah, and he was guided by God’s spirit like the Dove. He kept a diary of his first voyage which has been translated into English, “The Diario of Christopher Columbus’s First Voyage to America, 1492-1493.” In his daily entries, he speaks of God’s guidance, protection, inspirations and miracles throughout the voyage, which would easily have ended in disaster and perhaps even mutiny, if not for God’s divine intervention. He prayed to God for help and received answers to his prayers.

His appeal to Queen Isabella and King Ferninand for funding to sail across the ocean was not originally to find a trade route to India to gain spices and goods. His life-long desire was to liberate Jerusalem . He convinced the King and Queen that he would return from India with enough gold and gems to pay for a crusade to liberate the Holy City and save souls with the gospel of Christ. This was the strong desire of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand was interested in the treasures, having depleted Spain’s coffers through several wars. After much deliberation, they agreed and provided all that Christopher required for his first voyage.

As we all know, he never made it to India, but landed on the outer islands of America. From his diary, we know that he was guided there by God, and can only deduce that God wanted Christopher, “Christ-bearer,” to land in America for a divine purpose. That will be the topic of part 2. What was God’s divine purpose for the discovery of America at that exact moment in history?

“Christopher Columbus’s Jewish Roots”, by Jane Frances Amler. Jason Aronson, Inc. Northvale, New Jersey, London Copyright 1991

The Diario of Christopher Columbus’s First Voyage to America, 1492-1493, Abstracted by Fray Bartolome de las Casas, Transcibed and Translated into English, with Notes and a Concordance of the Spanish, by Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelley, Jr., University of Oklahoma Press: Norman and London, Copyright 1989

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