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'God made many things': Latin and Spanish messages mixed with Christian symbols reveal how Europeans attempted to convert Caribbean natives

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By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
7/20/2016 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Over 30 inscriptions in Latin and Spanish as well as Christian symbols can be found within a single series of caves in Mona.

Researchers have discovered several Christian inscriptions in Latin and Spanish within a series of caves on the Caribbean island of Mona.

Cave inscriptions reveal attempts to convert Caribbean natives (University of Liecester).

Cave inscriptions reveal attempts to convert Caribbean natives (University of Liecester).

Highlights

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the study 'The Mona Chronicle': the archaeology of early religious encounter in the New World, published in the archaeology journal Antiquity, colonists who reached the Caribbean attempted to convert the natives with both fear and Biblical knowledge.

Inscriptions reading, "God made many things" and "God forgive you" were discovered along images of crucifixes and other Christian symbols.


Researchers wrote: "There is no obvious contemporary textual source for this phrase, and the commentary appears to be a spontaneous response to whatever the visitor experienced in the cave."

Of the phrase, "God made many things," researchers commented: "The phrase may express the theological crisis of the New World discovery, which throws the personalized human experience and reaction into sharp relief."

One Latin inscription reading Verbum caro factum est or "And the Word was made flesh [and dwelt among us]," is a quote from John 1:14.

Indigenous ceramics from cave 18 with similar iconography from cave 12 on the other side of the island.

Indigenous ceramics from cave 18 with similar iconography from cave 12 on the other side of the island (University of Liecester).


In the time of the first colonists' arrival, this quote was widely-known and any Christian with or without a formal education knew of it.

Researchers believe the inscriptions reveal the tone and context of initial conversion techniques were used on the indigenous people.

Two depictions of Calvary were discovered in the caves with different crosses. In total there were 17 crosses discovered in the caves. Each was "placed in visually dominant positions over cave entrances or on high walls, most being set vertically above indigenous iconography rather than superimposed."


Names were also discovered in the stone walls and ceilings, many of which were not listed in official texts of early colonial passenger lists but others were identified and confirmed.

The early to mid-sixteenth-century cave inscriptions taught researchers much of the indigenous-European "spiritual encounter" and has since left researchers fascinated.

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