Witnesses to the Truth: The Remains of the Servants of God

Immediate Disposition


The circumstances of the slaughter of the Five Martyrs were such as to preclude the likelihood that their bodily remains would come immediately into the care of any persons disposed to treat them with due respect.


Still ignorant of the sacral quality of a baptized person as a living temple of the Holy Spirit, the Christian converts – even if it had been permitted to them – would hardly have had the inspiration to gather the relics of the slain missionaries as a precious token of their union with God. Moreover, those few who were Christian could scarcely confront the fury of the rebels bent on the extinction of the new religion. The violent spirit of the assassins indeed rendered unthinkable the slightest manifestation of sympathy with or honor toward the memory of the slain friars.

The first report of the slaughter to reach the Franciscan Comisário and the Governor in San Agustin came on the morning of October 7. By then it was more than three weeks since the outbreak of the Revolt and the slaying of the first of the martyrs. The Comisário, Fray Francisco de Marrón and the Governor, Don Gonzalo Méndez de Canzo, meeting in conference at the Franciscan headquarters in San Agustin, agreed on sending immediately a small military force to protect the remaining missionary friars and their converts at the nearest mission, that of San Pedro (Cumberland Island), where the rebels had already made an appearance.

This preliminary provision for the protection of the surviving friars working among the natives was soon followed by a more formidable effort. On October 17 the Governor himself, despite being ill, with a force of 150 soldiers set out for the scene of the Revolt. The double purpose of his expedition was to put down the uprising and to initiate an official investigation of the event. Accompanying that expedition was Fray Blas de Montes who had been delegated by the Comisário to "search diligently for the bodies of the slain friars…so that those which are found should be brought with all possible respect to the Convento de San Francisco in San Agustin." Montes was also charged with gathering and taking possession of any church-objects and personal items of the slain brethren which might be found. 1

Información juridica sabre las sucesos de la provincia de Guale, de la rebelión di las indios y muerte de cinco religiosos de San Francisco (San Agustin, a 12 de enero de 1598) (AGI, Audiencia de Santo Domingo, 224) ed. Omaechevarría, MH 12 (1955): 306-07.

CREDIT: REPORTATIO SUPER MARTYRIO SERVORUM DEi PETRI DE CORPA ET SOCIORUM EJUS ANNO DOMINI 1597 IN FLORIDA OCCISORUM (Editio Tertia "Positionis", 7 Maii 2002)
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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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