Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27, 2012

1605: Huguenots in St. Augustine, Part Two

Well, it did not happen exactly as it sounds. The French Huguenots trading with the Native Americans further down the coast in 1605 had no intention of going to St. Augustine; in fact, they probably did their best to avoid it. No one had forgotten the treacherous massacre of nearly 250 Huguenots on the beaches of Matanzas just forty years earlier. But these beleaguered Protestants had the unlucky distinction of being captured by Spaniards and taken to the tiny outpost of "San Agustín."

They were not exactly blameless. They were pirates engaging in activities that were probably less than wholesome, yet considering their fate, one still feels a great amount of empathy for their plight. As the soldiers did not perceive these trading Frenchmen as so much of a threat, they agreed to try and convert them before executing them. The Spaniards insisted they were killing the men for piracy and not for their Protestant beliefs. Although that may have been true, the irony remained: They would die whether they accepted Catholicism or not. Accepting it just meant that they would be buried in hallowed ground.

The priests were assigned to the job. They peppered the Protestants with questions and assaulted them with all sorts of information, again hoping that, if the men would die, at least they would die in the Catholic tradition. Here comes the part of the story that has always fascinated me. All but one of the Frenchmen renounced his Protestant faith. Who was that one man? What strength did he possess? What was his name? Whereas all the others died for piracy and were buried in the manner of the Catholic Church, it could be said that he died not only for his mistakes but also for his faith. How did one man have the courage to hold fast when every single one of his companions failed to give testimony?

Did he have “the peace that passeth understanding”?

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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