Thursday, September 25, 2008

First known American Indian baptism

Here is a piece of Christian history in the Americas I'd not yet encountered, courtesy of the book I just read that convinced me Christopher Columbus from Genoa (Italy) was actually Cristofor Colom of Catalonia.

The first sacrament of baptism administered in the New World!

Charles J. Merrill writes:

"The new Christian was an Indian who took the name Juan Mateo. The minister was a friar of whom Las Casas wrote, 'Fra Ramon Pane did not speak our Castilian language properly as he was of the Catalan nation.' This friar Pane, or Paner, was also the author of the first book written in the New World, called, according to the 1498 edition, now lost, An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians."

So I guess that also makes this a piece of lost publishing history, too.


Engraving of Moravian missionaries baptising Delaware and Mahicans in the Lehigh Valley (1757) from The Library Company of Philadelphia, courtesy of Explore Pennsylvania History.

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