As I’m re-reading historical sources, I continually find it eye-opening how much of our official American history has been rewritten or at least revised when it comes to almost anything concerning the Catholic Church. Here is an interesting tid-bit I found in an old book entitled Sketches of the Establishment of the Church in New England, by Rev. James Fitton, published in Boston in 1877. He refers to a more general and better known History of the United States by Hildreth.
In 1617, a French vessel was wrecked near Cape Cod, and all who reached the shore were massacred by the Indians, except three, who were sent from one Sachem to another in triumph. Two soon sank victims to disease and violence. The third, supposed to have been a priest, lived longer, and endeavored to convert the Indians and win them from vice; but their obdurate hearts were proof to all his appeals, and he frequently held up to them the terrors of eternity and the wrath of an offended God. Soon after his death, a pestilence swept over the land, which they looked upon as the result of his prayers, and as their tribes were reduced to a mere handful, they repented of their obduracy, and resolved to listen to the white men who should tell them of the Great Spirit. Thus was the field prepared for the future labors of Eliot.
In 1620 the Mayflower bore to the rocky shore, which had already received the name of Plymouth, the gloomy Separatists.
In other words, if it weren’t for the selfless missionary witness and subsequent death of a shipload of French Catholics, and the three who died as captives, one a Catholic priest, the Mayflower pilgrims would not have been received quite so benevolently, and may have suffered the same fate as the turkeys!
(Article published in CHNewsletter, November, 1995)