Oct 12, 2015

Where is Columbus buried?

For years there has been a controversy as to where Christopher
Columbus is buried. It seems Columbus continued to travel after he died! In 1506 he was buried in Valladodid, Spain. When I was in Seville, Spain I went to see his tomb in the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede.  It is huge with four full-size elaborately attired figures carrying the casket on their shoulders. Later Columbus was moved from Valladolid to Seville. 

Later, at the request of his daughter-in-law, Columbus and his son, Diego, were transported across the Atlantic to Hispaniola where the remains were interred in the Santo Domingo cathedral. When the French captured Hispaniola in 1795 he was disinterred and taken to Cuba. In 1892, at the close of the Spanish-American War, the remains were sent back across the Atlantic to Seville. 

The issue was muddied even more in when a leaden box containing human remains was discovered in the Santo Domingo cathedral with the inscription “Illustrious and
distinguished male, don Cristobal Colon.  The Spanish did some DNA testing in 2006 that indicated at least some of the remains in Spain belonged to Columbus.  To date there has been no DNA testing of the remains in Santo Domingo. In the Dominican Republic his remains are in the large lighthouse monument built for that purpose. With all the interring and disinterring and moving the remains from one place to another it is possible that both Seville and Santo Domingo have some of his remains. 

Columbus led four voyages to the “New World” but it wasn’t until his fourth voyage that he set foot on the mainland of the Americas. After visiting the Honduran Bay Island they set sail again and for a month endured the storm-tossed sea.  When the mountains of the mainland were finally spotted Columbus thanked God. Today the mountains near the north coast of Honduras are called “Gracias a Dios” (thanks to God). On July 30, 1502 his ships sailed into the large Trujillo Bay. Most of the early voyages included a priest. The first Catholic mass was held in present day Honduras near the present-day town of Trujillo. 

Much is made of Columbus’ voyages and, yes, crossing the
Atlantic in such small ships and not knowing where they were going was certainly adventurous and brave. There were many brave seamen through the years and there is much controversy about what people reached the Americas first.  

The Mormons believe that Lehi arrived about 700 BC. The Irish believe that St. Brennan made landfall in AD 500. Many claim that Leif Erikson, the Icelandic explorer, was the first European to set foot on the mainland of the Americas 500 years before Columbus. In Hong Kong I visited the History Museum where there is a model of one of Zheng He’s ships on display. Next to it is a model of Columbus’ ships.  They would fit on the deck of one of Zheng He’s
ships which were 400 feet long. The Santa Maria was 50 feet long.  Zheng He’s many voyages predate those of Columbus. His voyage in 1405 was comprised of 317 ships and 27,870 men. Some believe that at least one of his seven voyages made it to the Americas. For sure he made it to India and Africa. Most likely there were others; regardless, Columbus is the one who changed the history of the Americas.