Struggling For Equality
Many of my readers know that I have made the Huguenot martyrs of Matanzas, who died in Florida in 1565 for refusing to recant their Protestant faith, a “pet project” of mine. I have dedicated myself to remembering and honoring these 245 men and doing what I can to keep their memories alive. A few days past, when I opened a St. Augustine local newspaper online, my heart jumped when I saw the title “Remembering the Martyrs.” I have long believed that far too little is being done and said about the Matanzas martyrs. Yet I soon learned that the martyrs in question were Franciscan priests. There was a very nice article about these Catholic friars and their deaths at the hands of disgruntled Native Americans. One man in particular, Agustín Ponce de Leon, is to be remembered with a special religious service.
Though I am always glad to see people of any religion remembered for their sacrifices, it also made me incredibly sad. The Huguenot martyrs of Matanzas certainly deserve the same kind of recognition. It is so disheartening that few people have written the same kind of touching articles about the men of Matanzas and what they suffered.
Part of that newspaper story called “Remember the Martyrs” said many St. Augustine Catholics are grateful that the names and sacrifices of their Catholic martyrs from the 1500s and beyond are finally coming to light. They are relieved that these men will not suffer the ultimate fate of being forgotten. I think that, as American Protestants, we should do the same for these forgotten Huguenots. There is talk of a display for Agustín Ponce de Leon at the mission of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine. I would like to see mention of the Matanzas martyrs in other museums in that ancient city, places where the public might learn what really happened.
It is maddeningly ironic that there was such violence against early Protestants in America, a land which for much of its history was known as a Protestant nation. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” the Church Father Tertullian said. The story of the Matanzas massacre is one of America’s most harrowing tales and yet it remains largely forgotten. If a small but insistent group of St. Augustine Catholics have cared for and loved their martyrs enough to elevate them back into the history books, so should American Protestants from across the country remember and love “their” Huguenots, the men of Matanzas. It is a great tragedy that their sacrifice is often cheapened, overlooked, and unremembered.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved