Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Explorer; b. at Cuenca, Spain, about 1466; d. on the island of Santo Domingo , about 1508. He came of an impoverished noble family, but had the good fortune to start his career in the household of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. He early gained the patronage of Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, Bishop of Burgos and later Patriarch of the Indies, who made it possible for Ojeda to accompany Columbus in his second voyage to the New World. Ojeda distinguished himself there by his daring in battle with the natives, towards whom, however, he was unduly harsh and vindictive. He returned to Spain in 1496. After three years he again journeyed to the New World with three vessels on his own account, accompanied by the cosmographer Juan de La Cosa and Amerigo Vespucci. In a little over three weeks he sighted the mainland near the mouth of the Orinoco, and after landing on Trinidad and at other places, discovered a harbour which he called Venezuela (little Venice ), from its resemblance to the bay of Venice. After some further exploration, he made his way to the island of Hispaniola, where he was not received cordially, because it was thought that he was infringing upon the exploring privileges of Columbus. On his return to Spain in 1500, he took with him many captives whom he sold as slaves. Having still influential friends at home, he was able to fit out a new expedition, which left Cadiz in 1502 and made a landing on the American continent at a place which he named Santa Cruz. There he established a colony which did not last long because of the improvidence of his companions and their extreme cruelty towards the Indians. Chafing under his leadership, these companions turned against him and sent him back a prisoner to Spain, accusing him of having appropriated the royal revenues. He was tried and sentenced to pay a heavy fine. Upon his appeal, however, he was acquitted of all culpability, but was now reduced to poverty.

In some way or other he made his way back to Hispaniola, where his former associate Cosa also was. There he conceived the idea of establishing colonies on the mainland between Cabo de Vela and the Golfo de Uraba, and after some time spent in petitioning the Government, finally the two comrades obtained the necessary permission. He went back to Spain and organized his third and last expedition, only after great effort. Among the persons who embarked in his four vessels was Pizarro, the future conqueror of Peru. Cortes, who was later to dominate Mexico, would have been among the soldiers of fortune engaged in this adventure, had not a sudden illness prevented him from sailing. When he reached his destination, Ojeda found the natives very hostile; they attacked his force and slew every man except Ojeda and one other. The two escaped to the shore, where they were succoured by those whom he had left in charge of the ships. Not yet despairing, he founded a new colony at San Sebastian. It soon became necessary for him to proceed to Hispaniola to obtain supplies for the settlement, in charge of which he left Pizarro. He was shipwrecked on the way, and only after suffering great privations did he finally reach Santo Domingo, where he died.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains my hands for war and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go away,' they said. 'Leave ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 27th, 2016 Image

St. Frumentius
October 27: Called "Abuna" or "the fa¬≠ther' of Ethiopia, ... Read More