Chapter

Cross and Sword

James M. Woods

in A History of the Catholic Church in the American South, 1513–1900

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035321
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039046 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813035321.003.0001
Cross and Sword

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In April 1513, Juan Ponce de León first sighted the coast of what would become the United States and part of the American South. He was not, however, the first European to see these shores. For at least a decade, slavers operating out of La Española occasionally searched for Indians on this continent to replace the indigenous people of that island who were dying from overwork and from diseases introduced by the Europeans. The next day, Ponce de León set foot on his new discovery. This thirty-nine-year-old former Spanish governor of Puerto Rico designated it La Isla de la Florida, as he believed this tierra to be an island. He thus gave the first permanent name to any portion of North America. Ponce de León's importance regarding religion is minimal, for óalthough he was a Catholic, he brought with him no priest-missionaries to convert the natives into Catholicism.

Keywords: Juan Ponce de León; United States; South; La Española; Indians; indigenous people; Catholicism

Chapter.  13136 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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