St. Francis of Assisi died in A.D. 1226, and while he never came to the New World, some of our earliest missionaries were his spiritual sons, the Franciscan friars from Spain. They were among the first to preach the Gospel in what is today Georgia.
The word “Fray” is Spanish for “Friar,” which means brother. The Franciscans called themselves brothers, but because most of the missionaries were also ordained priests, they were also called “Padres” (Spanish for “Fathers”).
Father Pedro de Corpa and the other four martyrs were not alone in their heroic work of establishing the Church among the peoples of our shores. There were others whose names remain unknown to us. But these men are apostles in Georgia. The Guale Revolt was not just aimed at the Franciscan friars either. Other Christian Guale were targeted besides, and the mission churches were burned to the ground. This was an attempt to root out the Christian religion by the prince, Juanillo, and his co-conspirators. The Christian Guale who observed all of this and lived (many of whom where elders and chiefs) must have been crestfallen at this rebellion. In the end, the Franciscans returned, and Juanillo was never made mico (chief).