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Image: The Departure of Columbus from Palos, Spain, in 1492 by Emanuel Leutze (public domain)

By Phillip Campbell, Catholic Exchange, Oct. 10, 2022

Phillip Campbell is a history teacher for Homeschool Connections and the author of many books on Catholic history, most notably the Story of Civilization series from TAN Books. You can learn more about his books and classes on his website, Phillip resides in southern Michigan.

Today, Christopher Columbus is calumniated as a harbinger of disease, death, and enslavement of indigenous peoples. In the riots of 2020, his statues were pulled down across the nation amidst increasing calls to “cancel” the federal holiday in his honor. Meanwhile, a petition circulated around Columbus, Ohio to rename the city “Flavortown” in honor of local celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

Given the current zeitgeist of hostility towards the great Admiral, you might be surprised to learn that Christopher Columbus was once proposed for canonization. The story goes back to the golden age of Italian immigration, between 1875 and 1914. Columbus was a powerful symbol of Italian-American identity, venerated as a Catholic Italian immigrant hero. It was during this era, in 1882, that Connecticut priest Fr. Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to attend to the temporal needs of Catholic immigrants, many of them Italian. …
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