The Search For Fort Caroline, America’s First Haven of Religious Freedom . . .
I was recently heartened by an article on www.Jacksonville.com that explained how a group of intrepid “Indiana Joneses” have again begun to search for the French Protestant outpost of Fort Caroline near Jacksonville, Florida. To those not historically or religiously-inclined, it might seem a tedious job . . . sifting through mounds of dirt in the desperate hopes of finding a button or a cup handle or anything that would mark a particular area as having been settled by the French. Yet, if I could manage it, I would be right out there with this dedicated team, gladly searching for a place that has always been close to my heart.
Fort Caroline is more than a place. It is an icon. It is a symbol of the first Protestant settlement in America (save for Charlesfort, which lasted only a short while) and the first haven of religious freedom built for those who desperately needed it. (See my posts of September 20 and March 29 for a quick overview on Fort Caroline and her fate). If there was ever a place for a Protestant pilgrimage in America, this would be it. Also, for those of us with Huguenot ancestry, the knowledge that our ancestors or at least relatives might have settled in this fort, might have died here for their faith, is a powerful motivator.
It has been said that some day after a gigantic storm, the remains of those French Protestant men who were martyred south of here at Matanzas might be found. The same theory stands for Fort Caroline. And though “Superstorm Sandy” yielded no trace of these sites (as far as I know) that great disaster was a reminder that such a storm might very well be the catalyst for discovering the truth. (And please remember to pray for those affected by Sandy and for those who have lost loved ones. I will be praying as well!)
As long as there are enthusiasts who have made it a personal goal to search for Fort Caroline and her forgotten colonists, there is the chance that someone, someday (hopefully soon!) will find the pivotal artifact that will tell all. I’m waiting and praying for that day!
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved