A Day for the Genoese: Bp. Siri Blesses the Caboto Ship
Nov. 14, 1946 - Bp. Siri of Genoa, the future Gregory XVII, ("Shepherd and sailor" on St. Malachy's list) - blesses the Caboto ship, named after Giovanni Caboto who was born in Genoa. Giovanni Caboto (‘Caboto’ means “a coastal seaman”) was the first documented European to arrive in North America after the Norse. The Catholic King, Henry VII of England, authorized Caboto (John Cabot) to "seek out, discover and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels... in what part of the world soever they be, which before this time have beene unknowen to all Christians." England it seems, was also attempting to keep up with the Spaniards, who had sent their own expedition west under Christopher Columbus of Genoa years earlier. It was 1492 and his (Columbus') discovery was received in Europe with fanfare. So not to be outdone by the Spanish, King Henry VII selected the Genoese Caboto to cross the Atlantic and plant a flag for England. Cabot sailed from Bristol, England on May 2, 1497 on a single ship and set a more northerly route then Columbus, settling into higher Atlantic currents. Four and a half weeks later he sighted land. On St. John's Day -- June 24, 1497 Cabot set into a bay and named the area 'Terra Nova' or "New Found Land." The events of discovery were recorded by two foreign agents from England; Raimondo Soncino and Lorenzo Pasqualigo and by a Bristol merchant, John Day. Day's letter, written in the winter of 1497-98, describes a single landing on the same day Cabot spotted land. When Cabot and a few men went ashore they raised a cross and the banner of England, claiming the territory for the Catholic Church and for the English King.