Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 09, 2015

Washington Oaks State Gardens

Very near St. Augustine is the town of Palm Coast, and in and around this place you’ll find some pretty interesting sights. One of these is Washington Oaks State Gardens --- and its beautiful, relatively untouched beach just across the road. It’s hard to imagine that the site of the Matanzas massacres in September and October of 1565 may have taken place just about 2 ½ miles from this spot. (If you’ve visited my memorial page, Martyrs of Matanzas, which can be reached from this blog, you’ll know why this subject is so dear to my heart).
With the passage of time, it has become easier and easier to forget these tragic events, and there have even been some who have justified the slaughters. Others believe that the reason for these men’s deaths had nothing to do with religion, thus unjustly stripping them of their much-deserved honor. To put this false notion to rest, I’ve included the actual words of Spanish eyewitnesses, first Fr. Gonzalo Solís de Merás, who in his narrative says, “He asked if they were Catholics or Lutherans, or if any of them desired to make confession.” He later states that “The Adelantado then ordered all to be killed, and in the same order and at the same mark, as had been done to the others. He spared only the fifers, drummers, and trumpeters, and four others who said that they were Catholics.”

 Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales writes that “all the others were executed, because they were Lutherans and enemies of our Holy Catholic faith.” The first of these massacres took place on September 29, 1565, while the second occurred on October 12th. It’s the second of these, where the Huguenot captain Jean Ribault was murdered with the rest of his soldiers, which prompted me to dedicate this post to their suffering. (If you want to read more eyewitness accounts, check out my blog,, or, if you like, engage in further research to flesh out this sad and fascinating story).
Now, for lighter fare:

Castillo de San Marcos

Who doesn’t love a 343-year-old Spanish fortress? And you don’t even have to travel to Spain; just take a spin around St. Augustine! The Castillo de San Marcos is, I admit, like my second home. Seriously. I would sleep there if I was allowed, but I doubt that is even a remote possibility. This view shows one of the aged bastions, and despite its wear and tear it looks remarkably good for being constructed during the age of piracy. (And because of the age of piracy, in truth. St. Augustine has a fascinating history well worth exploring).

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

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