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The Life of Christopher Columbus

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His Birth & Birth-place

Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa. The honor of his birth-place has been claimed by many villages in that Republic, and the house in which he was born cannot be pointed out with certainty till date. But the best authorities agree that the children and grown people of the world have never been mistaken when they said: “America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa.”

His name, and that of his family, is always written Colombo, in the Italian papers which refer to them, for more than one hundred years before his time. In Spain it was always written Colon; in France it was written as Colomb; while in England it has always kept its Latin form, Columbus. It has frequently been said that he himself assumed this form, because Columba is the Latin word for “Dove,” with a fanciful feeling that, in carrying Christian light to the West, he had taken the mission of the dove. Thus, he had first found land where men thought there was ocean, and he was the messenger of the Holy Spirit to those who sat in darkness. It has also been assumed that he took the name of Christopher, “the Christ-bearer,” for similar reasons. But there is no doubt that he was baptized “Christopher,” and that his family name had long been Columbo. The coincidences of name are but two more in a calendar in which poetry delights, and of which history is full.

Christopher Columbus was the oldest son of Dominico Colombo and Suzanna Fontanarossa. This name means Red-fountain. He had two brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, whom we shall meet again. Diego is the Spanish way of writing the name which we call James.

It seems probable that Christopher was born in the year 1436, though some writers have said that he was older than this, and some that he was younger. The record of his birth and that of his baptism have not been found.

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Copyright © Edward E. Hale, ROXBURY, MASS., June 1st, 1891
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© CaribSeek, 2002 - All Rights Reserved - Web Published:  December 7, 2002