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"_Resolved_, Article 1. That it is granted to the _Sacred Heart Review_ of Boston, United States of America, permission to erect a monument on the site of the ruins of Old Isabella, in the district of Puerto Plata, whose purpose shall be to commemorate the site whereon was built the first Catholic church in the New World. This monument shall be of stone, and wholly conformable to the plan presented. It shall be erected within a plot of ground that shall not exceed 10,000 square yards, and shall be at all times solidly and carefully inclosed. If the site chosen belongs to the state, said state concedes its proprietary rights to the pet.i.tioners while the monument stands. If the site belongs to private individuals, an understanding must be reached with them to secure possession.
"Article 2. The builders of said monument will have perpetual control and ownership, and they a.s.sume the obligation of caring for and preserving it in good condition. If the builders, as a society, cease to exist, the property will revert to the munic.i.p.ality to which belongs Old Isabella, and on them will revert the obligation to preserve it in perfect repair.
"Article 3. The monument will be considered as public property, and the local authorities will give it the protection which the law allows to property of that cla.s.s. * * * But on no condition and in no way could the government incur any responsibility of damage that might come to the monument situated in such a remote and exposed location.
"Article 4. We declare free from munic.i.p.al and coast duties the materials and tools necessary for the construction of said monument, and if it is introduced in a ship carrying only this as a cargo, it will be permitted to said ship to make voyage from Monte Christi or Puerto Plata without paying any of said coast imposts.
In view of these concessions the monument committee will present to the mayor of the city a detailed statement of the material and tools needed, so that this officer can accept or reject them as he sees fit.
"Article 5. Wherefore the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, and other officers of the Cabinet are charged with the execution of the present resolution.
"Given at the National Palace of Santo Domingo, Capital of the Republic, on the twenty-fifth day of November, 1891, forty-eighth year of independence and the twenty-ninth of the restoration.
(Signed) "ULISES HEUREAUX, _President_.
"W. FIGUEREO, _Minister of Interior and Police_.
"IGNACIO M. GONZALES, _Minister of Finance and Commerce_.
"SANCHEZ, _Minister of State_.
'Copy exactly conforming to the original given at Santo Domingo, November 28, 1891.
"RAFAEL Y. RODRIGUEZ, "_Official Mayor and Minister of Public Works and Foreign Affairs._"
With these concessions in hand, a committee, consisting of Capt. Nathan Appleton and Thomas H. c.u.mmings, was appointed to go to Washington and secure recognition from the United States Government for the enterprise.
The committee was everywhere favorably received, and returned with a.s.surances of co-operation and support. Hon. W. E. Curtis, head of the Bureau of Latin Republics in the State Department, was added to the general monument committee.
Meanwhile the _Sacred Heart Review_, through Dr. Charles H. Hall of Boston, a member of the monument committee, put itself in communication with the leading citizens of Puerto Plata, requesting them to use every effort to locate the exact site of the ancient church, and make a suitable clearing for the monument, at its expense.
In answer to this communication, a committee of prominent citizens was organized at Puerto Plata, to co-operate with the Boston Columbus Memorial Committee. The following extract is taken from a local paper, _El Porvenir_, announcing the organization of this committee:
"On Sat.u.r.day last, a meeting was held in this city (Puerto Plata) for the purpose of choosing a committee which should take part in the celebration. Those present unanimously resolved that such a body be immediately formed under the t.i.tle of, 'Committee in Charge of the Centennial Celebration.'
"This committee then proceeded to the election of a board of management, composed of a president, vice-president, secretary, and four directors.
The following gentlemen were elected to fill the above offices in the order as named: Gen. Imbert, Dr. Llenas, Gen. Juan Guarrido, Presbitero Don Wenceslao Ruiz, Don Jose Thomas Jimenez, Don Pedro M. Villalon, and Don Jose Castellanos.
"To further the object for which it was organized, the board counts upon the co-operation of such government officials and corporations of the republic as may be inclined to take part in this great apotheosis in preparation, to glorify throughout the whole world the work and name of the famous discoverer.
"As this is the disinterested purpose for which the above-mentioned committee was formed, we do not doubt that the public, convinced that it is its duty to contribute in a suitable manner to the proposed celebration, will respond to the idea with enthusiasm, seeing in it only the desire which has guided its projectors--that of contributing their share to the glorification of the immortal navigator."
The following official communication was received from this committee:
"PUERTO DE PLATA, March 19, 1892.
"Dr. CHARLES H. HALL, _Member Boston Columbus Memorial Committee, Boston, Ma.s.s., U. S. A._
"DEAR SIR: We have the honor of acquainting you that there exists in this city a committee for the celebration of the quadro-centennial whose purpose is to co-operate, to the extent of its ability, in celebrating here the memorable event.
[Ill.u.s.tration: TOSCANELLI'S MAP.]
"This committee has learned with the greatest satisfaction that it is proposed to erect a monument, on the site of Isabella, over the ruins of the first Catholic church in the New World. Here, also, we have had the same idea, and we rejoice that what we were unable to accomplish through lack of material means, you have brought to a consummation. And therefore we offer you our co-operation, and beg your acceptance of our services in any direction in which you may find them useful. With sentiments of high regard, we remain,
"Your very obedient servants,
"S. IMBERT, _President_.
"JUAN GUARRIDO, _Secretary_.
_Direction_, GEN. IMBERT, _President de la "Junta Para de la Celebracion del Centenario._"
The statue consists of a bronze figure of Columbus eight feet two inches high, including the plinth, mounted on a pyramid of coral and limestone twelve feet high, and which, in its turn, is crowned by a capstone of dressed granite, on which the statue will rest. The figure represents Columbus in an att.i.tude of thanksgiving to G.o.d, and pointing, on the globe near his right hand, to the site of the first settlement in the New World. The statue and pedestal were made from designs drawn at the Ma.s.sachusetts State Normal Art School by Mr. R. Andrew, under the direction of Prof. George Jepson, and the statue was modeled by Alois Buyens of Ghent.
The plaster cast of the monument, which has now been on exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston for some time, has been removed to the foundry at Chicopee for casting. In a few months it will be transformed into enduring bronze, and the Columbus monument will no longer be a growing thought but a living reality. To say it has stood the critical test of art connoisseurs in the Boston public is to say but little; for, from every quarter, comments on the work of the sculptor have been highly commendatory--the bold and vigorous treatment of the Flemish school, of which Mr. Buyens is a disciple, being something of a novelty in these parts, and well calculated to strike the popular fancy, which always admires strength, especially when combined with gracefulness and high art. Not a few of the best critics have p.r.o.nounced it superior to the average of similar statues to be found in and around Boston, and all unite in declaring it to be unquestionably a work of art, and one meriting great praise.
A recent communication from United States Consul Simpson, at Puerto Plata, announces that he has lately visited Isabella, in the interest of the monument. He made a careful survey of the site of the ancient town, and cleared the grounds of the trees and ma.s.ses of trailing vines that enc.u.mbered the ruins, and after a thorough examination, a.s.sisted by the people of the neighborhood, he found the remains of the first church.
Other communications have been received from the Dominican government approving of the change of plan, subst.i.tuting the statue for the simple stone monument, and offering the memorial committee the hospitalities of the island. And so the work goes on.
The monument, when erected, will commemorate two things--the establishment of Christianity and the rise of civilization in the New World. On the spot where it will stand Columbus built the first church 400 years ago.
One bronze relief shows the great discoverer in the fore-ground on bended knees with a trowel in his hand, laying the corner-stone. On the right, sits an ideal female figure, representing Mother Church, fostering a little Indian child, and pointing with uplifted hand to the cross, the emblem of man's salvation. Crouching Indians are at her feet, listening with astonishment to the strange story, while on the left of the cross are monks with bowed heads and lighted tapers, and in the distance are Spanish cavaliers and hidalgos.
The conception is thoroughly Catholic, Christian, simple, and artistic; it tells its own story with a pathos and directness not often found in works of this kind.
The second tablet is more ideal and more severely cla.s.sical than the first. The genius of civilization, bearing gifts, is carried in a chariot drawn by prancing horses. The Admiral, at the horses' heads, with one hand points the way for her to follow, while with the other he hands the reins to Columbia, the impersonation of the New World. An Indian at the chariot wheels stoops to gather the gifts of civilization as they fall from the cornucopia borne by the G.o.ddess. And thus is told in enduring bronze, by the genius of the artist, the symbolic story of the introduction of civilization to the New World.
Upon the face of the pedestal, a third tablet bears the inscription which was written at the instance of Very Rev. Dr. Charles B. Rex, president of the Brighton Theological Seminary. Mgr. Schroeder, the author, interprets the meaning of the whole, in terse rhythmical Latin sentences, after the Roman lapidary style:
_Anno. claudente. saeculum XV._ _Ex. quo. coloni. Christiani. Columbo. Duce_ _Hic. post. oppidum. const.i.tutum_ _Primum. in. mundo. novo. templum_ _Christo. Deo. dicarunt_ _Ephemeris. Bostoniensis_ _Cui. a. sacro. corde. est. nomen_ _Sub. auspice. civium. Bostoniae_ _Ne. rei. tantae. memoria. unquam. delabatur_ _Haec. marmori. commendavit._ _A. D. MDCCCLx.x.xXII._
(_Translation of the Inscription._)
Toward the close of the fifteenth century, Christian colonists, under the leadership of Columbus, Here on this spot built the first settlement, And the first church dedicated To Christ our Lord In the new world.
A Boston paper, called the _Sacred Heart Review_, Under the auspices of the citizens of Boston, That the memory of so great an event might not be forgotten, Hath erected this monument, A. D. 1892.
The question is sometimes asked why are Catholics specially interested, and why should the _Review_ trouble itself to erect this monument. The answer is this: We wish to locate the spot with some distinctive mark where civilization was first planted and where Christianity reared its first altar on this soil, 400 years ago. By this public act of commemoration we hope to direct public attention to this modest birthplace of our Mother Church, which stands to-day deserted and unhonored like a pauper's grave, a monument of shame to the carelessness and indifference of millions of American Catholics.
Why should we be specially interested? Because here on this spot the Catholic church first saw the light of day in America; here the first important act of the white man was the celebration of the holy ma.s.s, the supreme act of Catholic worship; here the first instrument of civilization that pierced the virgin soil was a cross, and here the first Catholic anthems resounding through the forest primeval, and vying in sweetness and melody with the song of birds, were the _Te Deum Laudamus_ and the _Gloria in Excelsis_. Sculptured marble and engraved stone we have in abundance, and tablets without number bear record to deeds and historical events of far less importance than this. For, mark well what these ruins and this monument stand for.
One hundred and twenty-six years before the Congregationalist church landed on Plymouth Rock, 110 years before the Anglican church came to Jamestown, and thirty-five years before the word Protestant was invented, this church was erected, and the gospel announced to the New World by zealous missionaries of the Catholic faith. No other denomination of Christians in America can claim priority or even equal duration with us in point of time. No other can show through all the centuries of history such generous self-sacrifice and heroic missionary efforts. No other has endured such misrepresentation and bitter persecution for justice's sake. If her history here is a valuable heritage, we to whom it has descended are in duty bound to keep it alive in the memory and hearts of her children. We have recently celebrated the centennial of the Church in the United States; but, for a still greater reason, we should now prepare to celebrate the quadro-centennial of the Church in America. And this is why Catholics should be specially interested in this monument. Columbus himself was a deeply religious man. He observed rigorously the fasts and ceremonies of the Church, reciting daily the entire canonical office. He began everything he wrote with the _Jesu c.u.m Maria sit n.o.bis in via_ (May Jesus and Mary be always with us). And as Irving, his biographer, says, his piety did not consist in mere forms, but partook of that lofty and solemn enthusiasm which characterized his whole life. In his letter to his sovereigns announcing his discovery he indulges in no egotism, but simply asks "Spain to exhibit a holy joy, for Christ rejoices on earth as in heaven seeing the future redemption of souls." And so his religion bursts out and seems to pervade everything he touches. With such a man to commemorate and honor, there is special reason why Catholics, and the _Review_, which represents them, should busy themselves with erecting a Columbus monument.
But the name and fame and beneficent work of Columbus belong to the whole Christian world. While Catholics with grat.i.tude recall his fort.i.tude and heroism, and thank G.o.d, who inspired him with a firm faith and a burning charity for G.o.d and man, yet Protestants no less than Catholics share in the fruit of his work, and, we are glad to say, vie with Catholics in proclaiming and honoring his exalted character, his courage, fort.i.tude, and the beneficent work he accomplished for mankind.
Hence Dr. Edward Everett Hale, in his recent article on Columbus in the _Independent_, voices the sentiment of every thoughtful, intelligent Protestant when he says, "No wonder that the world of America loves and honors the hero whose faith and courage called America into being. No wonder that she celebrates the beginning of a new century with such tributes of pride and hope as the world has never seen before." It is this same becoming sentiment of grat.i.tude which has prompted so many worthy Protestants to enroll their names on the list of gentlemen who are helping the _Review_ to mark and honor the spot Columbus chose for the first Christian settlement on this continent.
Thus, so long as the bronze endures, the world will know that we venerate the character and achievements of Columbus, and the spot where Christian civilization took its rise in the New World.
FROM THE ITALIAN.