Chronology of the Canonization Cause of Pedro de Corpa and Companions

1500s

  • 1573
    Dr. John Lanning notes that Franciscans first come to GA coast, but do not remain due to trouble with the French. (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 1577
    Dr. John Lanning suggests that Franciscans begin permanent missions in St. Augustine. (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 1583
    Dr. John Lanning notes that Franciscans are led up the coast by Fr. Reynoso, OFM, and begin permanent missions on the GA coast. (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 1587
    Twelve more Franciscans arrive to do mission work. Six are assigned to Guale (St. Catherines?) and six to upper Georgia. (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • c. 1587/1595

    Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe near (the Guale Village of) Tolomato (near Darien) is founded by Rev. Pedro de Corpa, OFM (born in Vilabilla, Spain).

    In this same year, Rev. Blas Rodriguez, OFM (of Cuacos, Spain and Superior of the Guale Missions) starts his missionary work among the Guale after 7 years of service in Florida. He goes on to found Mission Sta Clara (near Eulonia, GA). (from “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980 & “Past…Spanish Missions Tell the Tale,” in the Southern Cross, 1/27/1983)

  • c. 1595
    Rev. Miguel de Aunon, OFM (of Zaragoza, Spain) and Br. Antonio de Badajoz, OFM (Fr. Miguel’s interpreter) find Misión Santa Catalina de Guale (St. Catherine’s Island). (from “Past…Spanish Missions Tell the Tale,” in the Southern Cross, 1/27/1983)
  • c. 1595
    Stephen Mitchell places the foundation of the Talomata Mission on Pease Creek in McIntosh Co NE of Darien. (from “Stephens Mitchell Outlines Spanish Missions’ History,” in The Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association, 6/26/1937)
  • 9/13/1597
    Rev. Pedro de Corpa, OFM is murdered at Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe near (the Guale Village of) Tolomato (near Darien) by Guale Indians.
  • 9/16/1597
    Rev. Blas Rodríguez, OFM is murdered at Mission Sta Clara Tupique (near Eulonia, GA) by Guale Indians.
  • 9/17/1597
    Rev. Miguel de Añon, OFM (of Zaragoza, Spain) and Br. Antonio de Badajoz, OFM (Fr. Miguel’s interpreter) are murdered at Misión Santa Catalina de Guale (St. Catherine’s Island) by Guale Indians.
  • 9/18/1597
    Rev. Francisco de (B or V)eráscola, OFM (born in the mountain region of Cantabria, Spain) is murdered at Mission Santo Domingo de Asao (St. Simon’s Island) by Guale Indians.

1600s

  • 1605

    Initial information gathered by the Cause for Beatification indicates that Spanish Missions were reestablished among the Guale, and an investigation about the Franciscan deaths was pursued. (from “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980)

    Other history indicates that the Catholic Bishop of Havana visits the Province of Spanish Georgia and confirms 2,074 Indians practicing the Catholic faith. (from “Stephens Mitchell Outlines Spanish Missions’ History,” in The Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association, 6/26/1937)

  • 4/11-13/1606
    Bishop Cabeza de Altamirano of Cuba/Florida reaches Cumberland Island. Over the next two days he confirms the work of pastor Fr. Baltazar Lopez who is ministering to 308 persons including 4 chiefs at Cumberland and San Pedro. He also confirms the work of Fr. Diego Delgado, pastor to 262 Indians at Talaxe and 208 including Chief Tuguepi (head of the Salchiches) at the mission of Tolomato. (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 4/30/1606
    Bishop Cabeza de Altamirano visits St. Catherine’s Island and finds 286 active Catholic Indians and confirms a number of others on his return to St. Augustine. The number of confirmed is estimated at 1,652 for the state of Georgia at the time. from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 1612
    The definitors (councilors) of the Franciscan Custody of Sta. Elena (FL & Cuba) write to the King that the 5 missionaries were martyred because of the monogamy teaching. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957 & “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980)
  • 1614
    Rev. Luis Geronimo de Oré, OFM arrives in Florida to conduct his first ecclesiastical inspection. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 1616
    Rev. Luis Geronimo de Oré, OFM arrives in Florida to conduct his second ecclesiastical inspection. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • c. 1617-1620
    Rev. Luis Geronimo de Oré’s chronicle, The Martyrs of Florida, published. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 1680-1684
    Dr. David Hurst Thomas believes Mission Sta Catalina de Guale (St. Catherines’ Island) is abandoned. (from “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980)
  • 1686
    Information gathered during research on for the Beatification indicates that by this year, most of the Spanish Missions were abandoned due to English influence. (from “Past…Spanish Missions Tell the Tale,” in the Southern Cross, 1/27/1983)

1700s

  • 1703
    All Spanish influence in Georgia is lost due to war and English asserting their power over the region. (from “Stephens Mitchell Outlines Spanish Missions’ History,” in The Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association, 6/26/1937)
  • 1733
    The Colony of Georgia is established.
  • 1763
    The area known as “La Florida” ceded to England by the Spanish
  • 1776
    The United States of America separate from the British Government
  • 1783
    The American War with England ends.

1800s

  • 1850
    The Diocese of Savannah is erected out of the Diocese of Charleston.
  • 1857
    Eastern Florida became a “vicariate.”
  • 1871
    A brochure from the Tolomato Cemetery says that Bishop Verot, the new bishop of St. Augustine, sails to Havana and returns with some original Spanish records of St. Augustine, including a list of sacraments dispensed. (from Tolomato Cemetery pamphlet, June 1976)

1900s

  • 1936
    Dr. John Lanning (Duke University) publishes The Spanish Missions of Georgia (UGA: Athens, 1936) detailing the investigation and visit to the Georgia coast of Cuban Bishop Cabeza de Altamirano (Cuba/Florida). (from “Spanish Missions Subject of U of Georgia Work,” Southern Cross, 2/29/1936)
  • 1937
    Mary Ross of Brunswick publishes her research, which is cataloged in the Georgia State Archives. She credits Menendez de Aviles as the founder of St. Catherine’s Island in April of 1566. She also indicates that he found two presidios (forts) at San Augustin (St. Augustine, FL) and Sta Elena (St. Helena Island, SC) with outposts and settlers in between. After establishing headquarters at Sta Catalina, the Spanish go on to fortify other missions and presidios on Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Sapelo Island and Edisto Island, as well as the mainland. She indicates that Fr. Alonso Reynoso, OFM and the rest of the Franciscans take up the missions and education of the Guale. (from “Ross Traced Spanish Settlers,” from the Savannah News-Press, 7/10/1977)
  • 1937

    Stephen Mitchell (president of the Atlanta Bar Association and, among other positions, member of the historical committee for the Catholic Laymen’s Association) delivers a radio address on WSB Atlanta crediting St. Mary’s as first being occupied in 1566 by Spaniards and suggests that it is one of the oldest continually occupied locations by Western Europeans on the GA coast.

    He also names and describes the locations of some of the Spanish missions:

    • San Domingo de Talaxe – South bank of the Altamaha, north of Brunswick, on the plantation of Mr. Cator Woolford of Atlanta. Mitchell indicates the presence of ruins in 1937.
    • Tolamata Mission – founded in 1595 on Pease Creek in McIntosh Co, NE of Darien. Mitchell indicates the presence of ruins in a hog pasture in 1937.
    • Mission San Jose de Yapala – located on Sapalo Island on the plantation of Mr. Howard Coffin. Mitchell indicates ruins visible in 1937.
    • Mission Sta Maria – is located in what was, in 1937, Camden Co near St. Mary’s on a hunting preserve owned by Mr. James C. Wilson of Louisville, KY.
    • Sta Catalina Mission – Mitchell indicates that there was no mission located on St. Catherine’s Island, though this was possibly a typo in the newspaper
    • Buenaventura Mission – Mitchell believes it stood either near Brunswick or on Jekyll Island.
    • San Pedro Mocamo – Mitchell places this on Cumberland Island.

    From “Stephens Mitchell Outlines Spanish Missions’ History,” in The Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association, 6/26/1937

  • 11/1939
    During the US Bishop’s Annual Meeting in Washington, Most Rev. John Mark Gannon (Diocese of Erie, PA) of the Committee on the Cause of the Martyrs of the US introduced a resolution to petition the Holy See to receive one Cause for Canonization, “for the early missionaries who were put to death for the find in…the United States territory…” (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 1941
    Hierarchy submitted a petition to the Holy Father to beatify 118 missionaries – among them the five Franciscan Martyrs of Georgia – who had given their lives for the Faith.
  • 1947
    Father Mathias Faust is named Procurator General of the Order of Friars Minor. Stationed in Rome, he facilitates canonization causes for that order.
  • 7/11/1950
    Pedro de Corpa and his companions are singled out for a possible separate cause and Rev. Marion Habig, OFM is appointed as Pro-Postulator for the Cause of the Five Franciscan Martyrs of Georgia. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 9/16/1950
    A Commission is appointed to gather historical documents on the Georgia Martyrs. Members of the Commission are Rev. Marion Habig, OFM, Rev. Alexander Wyse, OFM and Rev. Ignatius Omaechevarria, OFM. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 11/1/1950
    Rev. Marion Habig, OFM sends the Franciscan Postulator General, Rev. Fortunatus Scipiori, photocopies of original documents from Spain regarding the Georgia Martyrs. (from The Martyrs of the United States of America ed. James M. Powers, 1957)
  • 1957
    Archbishop John Gannon, of Erie, submitted a proposal that the bishops petition the Holy See for a favorable acceptance of the Cause of the Five Martyrs of Georgia.
  • 1977
    Archaeologists from the American Museum of Natural History began looking for the site of Mission Santa Catalina.
  • 1979
    Father Alexander Wyse named Vice Postulator of the Cause
  • 9/20/1997
    Nativity of Our Lady Mission in Darien commemorates the 4th Centenary of the Deaths of the GA Martyrs with a service and lectures about the excavations and history of St. Catherine’s Island. (NOLMD program flier)
  • 1980
    Bishop Lessard expressed full support and cooperation in pursuing the canonical process of this Cause. In November of that year the first of several organizational meetings took place.
  • 12/1980
    Rev. Marion A. Habig, OFM is appointed Vice Postulator of the Georgia Martyrs Beatification. The martyrs championed the cause of Christian wedlock. (from “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980)
  • 1981
    Bishop Lessard requested the Nihil Obstat of the Holy See to institute the Cause of Fray Pedro de Corpa and his companions.
  • 12/1982
    Dr. David Hurst Thomas and a team of excavators from the American Museum of Natural History, NY discover the foundations of Mission Sta Catalina de Guale on St. Catherine’s Island. (from “Spain’s Fallen Outpost Unearthed on Georgia Island,” in The New York Times, 12/14/1982)
  • 1982
    Bishop Lessard names a three-member Historical Commission for the Cause. Chairman is Fr. Francisco Morales, OFM (Vice Director, Academy of American Franciscan history in Washington DC). Members are Dr. Edward Cashin (Chair of History Department, Augusta College) and Dr. F. Lamar Pearson (Professor, Valdosta State College). (from “Past…Spanish Missions Tell the Tale,” in the Southern Cross, 1/27/1983)
  • 1983
    Pope John Paul II established new norms governing causes of canonization.
  • 2/22/1984
    Bishop Lessard accepted the petition of the Franciscan Order officially opening the process. (from “Five 16th-Century Franciscans Considered for Beatification,” in the Savannah News-Press, 12/7/1980)
  • 5/1984
    Most Rev. Raymond W. Lessard reconsecrates the former mission site and blesses the burial grounds at Santa Catalina. Remains of those who died there are reburied.
  • 1986
    Nihil Obstat received from the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
  • 1992
    Postulator engaged in editing of the Positio for submission to the judgment of the Diocesan Tribunal.
  • 1993
    Public meeting held at St. Simons Island. The Postulator met with Bishop Lessard and members of the Tribunal to hand over their completed Report.

2000s

  • 2002
    Historical Commission completed its investigation. (Note that by this time Father Conrad Harkins had been named Vice-Postulator.)
  • 3/16/2007
    Diocesan stage of Georgia Martyrs Cause completed. Bishop Boland officially closed the Diocesan Process. Authenticated records were sent to the Congregation for the Causes of saints in Rome.
  • March 2010 or 2011
    Academy of American Franciscan History met on St. Catherine’s island.
Contact Information
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    Barbara D. King // Email // (912) 201-4051

Credits/External Links
REPORTATIO SUPER MARTYRIO SERVORUM DEi PETRI DE CORPA ET SOCIORUM EJUS ANNO DOMINI 1597 IN FLORIDA OCCISORUM (Editio Tertia "Positionis", 7 Maii 2002)
The First Georgia Missions: Our Southern Catholic Heritage, Dr. Paul Thigpen and Katherine Ragan. Illustrations by Pamela Gardner, based on the retablo by Dan Nichols. This retablo is part of the parish patrimony of Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church in Jasper, Georgia

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