This week in Christian history: Anabaptist leader martyred, first mass in New World

First Catholic Mass held in the Americas – January 6, 1494

A painting depicting what many believe to be the real first Thanksgiving in North America. Conquistadors under the leadership of Don Juan De Oñate celebrating the occasion in 1598 at modern day San Eliazario, Texas. | (Photo: Jose Cisneros/SEGHS)

This week marks the anniversary of the first Roman Catholic mass held in the “New World,” specifically on the island of Hispaniola for Christopher Columbus and his men.

The service was held in a temporary church building, with friar Bernado Buil (sometimes spelled Boyl) officiating the mass.

The service also marked the official establishment of the colony there, which was part of Catholic Spain’s gradual conquest of the Americas.  

The overall journey had been part Columbus’ second voyage to the New World, aimed at colonization now that he had discovered the new territory for Spain.  

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