At 2:00 a.m. on October 12, 1492, 517 years ago today, Christopher Columbus and his crew sighted land 71 days after sailing westward from Palos de la Frontera. This discovery, by a young captain sailing under the flag of Spain, helped set in motion a great series of events that made possible the restoration of the Gospel over 300 years later. The great voyage of discovery undertaken by Christopher Columbus was of such importance that it was shown to Nephi in vision 2600 years ago:
And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Nephi 13:12)
Columbus himself gave fervent testimony of the influence of the Spirit upon him:
With a hand that could be felt, the Lord opened my mind to the fact that it would be possible to sail and he opened my will to desire to accomplish the project… this was the fire that burned within me… Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit…urging me to press forward?” (Cristóbal Colón, Libro de las profecias)
At the end of his voyage of discovery, Columbus returned to Barcelona where he reported on his voyage to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. A monumental statue of Columbus stands at the foot of Las Ramblas to commemorate the opening of what is now called the Age of Discovery. A short distance away one can still see the baptismal font in the old Cathedral where the native Americans brought back by Columbus were baptized.
That same fire that burned within Columbus burns within us in the Spain Barcelona Mission. Like Columbus, we are on a great voyage of discovery, bringing light and knowledge to the people of Spain. As we go about our work, we too can say, “Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit…urging me to press forward?”
Happy Columbus Day from Barcelona!