Published on Aug 1st, 2012
Augustinian Day Commemorated August 28
Learn About Spanish Florida’s Murder Mystery
by Lilla Ross
If you love a good murder mystery consider attending the 13th annual Augustinian Address
on Tuesday, Aug. 28
at 7 p.m. at the Bishop Baker Parish Center, 259 St. George St. in St. Augustine. Vespers will begin at 6 p.m. for the Solemnity of St. Augustine.
Dr. Michael Francis will talk about the murders of five Franciscan friars by Guale Indians in Spanish Florida in the fall of 1597. They are known today as the Georgia martyrs because their missions were on St. Catherine and Cumberland islands.
Dr. Francis was until recently the chairman of the history department at the University of North Florida and has just assumed the Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.
He is the author of Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida, which explores the complex issues and personalities leading up to the murders.
The martyrs are under consideration by the Vatican for canonization. Their cause was begun in the 1950s, citing them for dying in the defense of marriage, Dr. Francis said.
Although the conditions under which they worked were harsh, the Franciscan friars encountered little violence from the Indians, he said. But a Guale chief did respond violently when the friars opposed his decision to take a second wife.
That’s the short version of events. In his research, Dr. Francis discovered that the relations between the friars and the Indians were quite complex and he will share his findings in the Augustinian Address.
The Augustinian Address is the centerpiece of the Cathedral Basilica’s observance of the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the parish, the diocese and the city.
It is free and open to the public. A reception will follow Dr. Francis’ talk.
Photo Caption: Dr. Michael Francis, the Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.