Squanto and the Franciscan friars

Here’s a tidbit for Thanksgiving meal conversation.

Students take part in Thanksgiving celebration. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi)

Students take part in Thanksgiving celebration. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi)

The Native American, Tisquantum, or Squanto, one of the table guests at the 1621 Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebration we think of as the first Thanksgiving, might not have been there had it not been for some Spanish Franciscan friars.

Many accounts just say he found freedom after being captured by an English captain in Massachusetts and sold into slavery in Spain but other accounts credit the friars for Squanto’s rescue. And some sources say he was baptized.

From there, Squanto made his way back to England. About 10 years after his capture, he returned to his homeland only to find his family and tribe members killed by smallpox.

To make a long story short, Squanto, as our history books point out, ended up helping the colonists in Plymouth. He taught them major life skills: such as how to plant, hunt and fish. He also held the crucial job of translator for the pilgrims in their dealings with the tribal chief.

William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth colony, wrote that Squanto, who died in 1622, a year after that famous meal, was a “special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectations.”

Taylor Marshall, a Catholic blogger, podcaster and president of New Saint Thomas Institute, which offers online theology classes, tells more about Squanto’s Catholic connection in this YouTube video .

2 Responses

  1. What I like best of the history of the white man’s first meeting in America with the first red man, Squanto, is Squanto’s first words to the white man as he called out: “Do you have any beer?!”

  2. Samoset was the one reported to have asked the question. Not Squanto.
    Still interesting.

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