America, United States, Catholic, Priests, Franciscans, Jesuits


Catholic Studies | United States History


According to the most recent statistics provided by the American bishops, there are an astonishing seventy million Catholics who call the United States home. Five hundred years ago, there was not a single Roman Catholic to be found anywhere in this vast expanse of forests, prairies, and mountains. (Moreover, presumably no one living at that time in what is now the United States had any knowledge of Jesus Christ, for the episcopacy of Erik Gnupsson in twelfth century Greenland hardly resulted in any evangelization of the Christian faith in the western hemisphere.) As the European authorities competed to establish colonies and settlements in the New World, each journeyed across the Atlantic with three primary intentions: to amass wealth, to establish glorious and prestigious settlements, and to spread the Christian faith. In the centuries that followed, several religious orders—perhaps the most well-known of which were the Jesuits and the Franciscans—washed up on the shores of America, forever shaping the progress and expansion of Roman Catholicism in America.

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