'And He made from one man euely nation of men to lioe on all the face of the earth, haoing determined allotted periods and the boundaries oftheir habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might seek after Him and find Him...' (Acts 17:26, 27).
It may seem somewhat strange to include a Portuguese navigator amongst notable Australian Christians. However, in this Bicentennial year, this remarkable man should not go unnoticed, and his life and deeds are worthy of tribute. For it is to this man that we owe the very name of our country, and it is to this man's 'vision splendid' that many look with longing for a hope and a future - a land dedicated to the Holy Spirit. This man was Pedro Fernandez de Quiros.
Since ancient times, the belief had existed that there was an extensive land mass in the southern hemisphere to 'balance' that in the north. Indeed, on a map drawn at the beginning of the fifth century according to the theory of Macrobius, this 'Terra Australis' appears with the inscription 'Perus-Ta-Temperata-Antipodum Nobis Incognita'.
Following the discovery of the Americas, various globes and maps featured
the 'Southern Land', and it was this belief in the southern hemisphere
that caused the kings of Spain to send expeditions in search of the reputed
continent. Their motives were mixed, but can be summarised crudely as 'God,
gold and glory', not necessarily in that order!
Manning Clark states, 'By 1580 the spread of heresy in Europe had enlivened this religious motive with a sense of urgency, for by then all true believers were tormented by the fear that the English and Dutch heretics would infect with the depravity of their apostasy countless numbers of Gentiles in the south seas.' (Clark, pp. 13-14). A number of Spanish voyages was sent west from Callao in Peru, yet most of these either lost heart in the vast number of central Pacific islands, or were driven by huge seas, winds and currents to the north.
Into this scene stepped de Quiros. A product of the Catholic reformation, full of idealism and missionary fervour, he was born at Evora, Portugal, in 1565. In 1595, he had sailed as chief pilot with Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana, in order to colonize the Solomon Islands, which Mendana had previously discovered. Mendana died en route, leaving de Quiros to struggle on to the Philippines.
J.C. Beaglehole, a renowned authority on Pacific exploration, described this 'guideless voyage to the Philippines against contrary winds, in rotten ships with a starving and dying company', as 'one of the greatest feats in the record of Pacific journeyings' (in Aust. Ency. p. 337).
De Quiros returned to Mexico, after spending eighteen months refitting in Manila. In 1600 he journeyed to Rome for inspiration, and was blessed by Pope Clement VIII. He had come to believe that he was divinely chosen as the one to bring the inhabitants of the southern land into the 'true fold' of the Catholic church, and that this 'Terra Australis' would become Austrialia del Espiritu Santo, a country dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
De Quiros obtained royal approval to search for the southern land in
1603. After acquiring three vessels and a crew, including Luis Viez de
Torres as second-in-command, he set sail for Callao, Peru on 21 December
1605. Sailing west, they sighted land after five months at sea. With great
festivity and excitement, de Quiros took possession of this land in the
name of His Majesty on 14 May 1606.
'In these hitherto unknown southern regions where I now am, I have come with the authorisation of the Supreme Pontiff, Clement III, and by order of our King, Philip III, King of the Spains, etc, promulgated by the Council of State, I, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in the name of the Most Holy Trinity take possession of all the islands and lands that I have newly discovered and shall discover as far as the pole.
'I take possession of all this part of the South as far as the pole in the name of Jesus. I take possession of all this part of the South as far as the pole in the name of St Francis and in the name of all his Order and members of it... I take possession of all this part of the South as far as the pole in the name of John of God and all the professed members of his Order...
'Finally, from this Bay of St Philip and St James and its port of Vera Cruz and from the place where the city to be known as the New Jerusalem is to be founded, in this latitude of full 15-1/3 degrees, and of all the lands that I have seen and I am seeing of all this part of the South as far as the pole.
'Which from now on shall be called the Southern Land of the Holy Ghost,
with all its annexes and dependencies, and this always and forever, in
the name of King Philip III, who bears the cost and expense of this fleet
with which I came to discover the said lands, on whose power and will shall
depend the foundation, government and maintenance of all that is sought
both temporally and spiritually for these lands and their peoples, in whose
name these flags are flown and I hoist this his royal standard, in the
presence as witnesses of the commander, Luis Baez de Torres, and hoist
his royal standard and the other flags, being further witnesses on this
Feast of Pentecost, and on the said day, month and year.'
But de Quiros was now in a quandary. His crew hardly shared his visions and aspirations, and despite masterful sailing qualities, he did not inspire in his leadership. When action was required, pietism stepped in, and by now the members of the expedition were in a state of near mutiny. Should he continue?
On June 8, the ships weighed anchor, but several days later de Quiros ordered a return. Two of the ships regained the anchorage, including de Torres, but de Quiros failed to do so, and for unclear reasons he subsequently returned to America.
As Clark put it, 'He spoke... of the great contrary winds they would encounter if they sailed south in search of the south land, of how their present position was unknown, and how little water they had left and no meat. Then with a majestic sweep he reminded himself of his subjection to the ordinances of God, His high and secret decrees, as well as the wishes of man. Whatever it was, whether obedience to the inscrutable decrees of providence or a use of the divine commands to justify the promptings of the heart, Quiros announced in grief and sorrow that all was ended' (p. 16).
Perhaps de Quiros felt God had ordered his return, perhaps he was swayed by the demands of crew and situation. Torres, however, continued, and in a remarkable feat, sailed to Manila via the previously unknown southern coast of New Guinea, through the strait separating that country from Australia.
After de Quiros had sailed to Mexico, he endured hardship and poverty
before arriving in Spain in October of 1607. During the next seven years,
he petitioned the Spanish Government for a vessel to resume the search.
Fifty of these petitions remain, testimony to the desperation de Quiros
felt, and lack of interest on the part of the authorities. Ignored, vilified,
Finally in 1614, de Quiros was given a letter addressed to the Viceroy
of Peru, ostensibly in which he was to provide ships and assistance.
What a dream this man had! Had he sailed further south, Aussies might all have been Spanish-speaking Catholics! De Quiros came within an ace of discovering mainland Australia, and not for want of determination or faith. But God's will was otherwise disposed, and it was left to other Europeans of another denomination to found and colonise white Australia.
However for many people of faith, the dreamof Austrialia del Espiritu Santo remains. We share with de Quiros a destiny unfulfilled, a longing not satisfied. The vision will yet be fulfilled, and when it is, we will remember him.
Michael de Looper is a full time staff worker with Youth With A Mission;
more specifically Lighthouse MInistries, and is also working full-time
as a research assistant at the Australian Institute of Health. Michael
has a B.Sc.(Hons) in psychology, and his interests are Christian psychology
and Biblical archaeology.
"The present subject to be announced to you, gentlemen, is that of an Order, the title of which is to be the 'Knights of the Holy Ghost', with the constitutions and precepts to be kept and professed, guided by such lofty and Christian ends as will be seen in them when the Lord is served, as I shall be able to show. All is done in confidence that His Holiness and His majesty, each of these two Lords as regards what concerns them, will be served in payment of my continual labours and good desire, by confirming this Order, with advantageous privileges, as long as the world endures; as well for the good that it secures as for the merits of vassals so honourable and so loyal, as is shown by the numerous services they perform, and will continue to perform in these parts.
"For all I have said and can say on this subject, I seek from all the consent of their free wills, in the names of the Most Holy Trinity, in the name of the Roman Pontiff, in the name of His Catholic Majesty the King, Don Philip, third of that name, King of Spain, and my Lord; and I, the Captain Don Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, give to each one of your mercies this cross, of a blue colour, which presently you are to place on your breasts, being the insignia by which the Knights of the Order of the Holy Ghost are to be known; and for the persons in whose charge, if I should fail, is to be placed the discovery, pacification, and possession of all these parts that we are discovering and may discover in the time to come.
"I pray heartily that the Knights may know and esteem the value of this
cross, gained with a determination to win much higher honours; and they
must bear in mind that, though it has not cost much money, labour, sickness,
nor time, that which it remains in their power to pay in this very high
enterprise is very great, for it is now known that the enterprise holds
a world for its heaven and its earth.
All this was listened to with much pleasure and accepted with satisfaction. The Captain asked them all to confess on Saturday, that on Sunday, the day of Pentecost, they might earn the Holy Jubilee which His Holiness had conceded to this expedition, and five other days in each year. Presently the Father Commissary persuaded all, and with his three priests he offered to confess, and all confessed.
THE FIRST CHURCH
Describes the celebration of the feast of the eve and the day of Pentecost, and the taking possession in the names of the Catholic Church, and of His Majesty.
On that night all three vessels displayed many lights, and they sent
off many rockets and fire-wheels. All the artillery was fired off; and
when the natives heard the noise and the echoes resounding over the hills
and valleys, they raised great shouts. We sounded drums, rang the bells,
had music and dancing, and had other forms of rejoicing, in which the men
showed great pleasure. The Captain said to all: "Gentlemen, this is the
eve of my long-desired day, for which there should be no empty hand nor
person for whom the appointed good things are not welcome, and as much
more as the part he takes may deserve."
The Royal Ensign came forth with the standard in his hands. The banners, which were fluttering and brightening the whole scene, received their tribute from discharges of muskets and arquebuses. Presently the Captain came out and went down on his knees, saying: "To God alone be the honour and glory." Then, putting his hand on the ground, he kissed it, and said: "O Land! sought for so long, intended to be found by many, and so desired by me!"
Then the Admiral came out with a cross made of the orange wood of the country, which the Captain had caused to be made. Our Father Commissary, with his five monks, all bare-footed, kneeling on the beach, received it in their arms, saying with great tenderness: "I adore thee, O Holy Cross, for the Author of our life, made flesh, died on thee for me, so great a sinner, and for the whole human race." Raising it and singing the "Lignum", with the people in procession, we arrived at the door of the church; and there, on a pedestal which had been placed for the purpose, the Captain planted our cross, and ordered that the people should come round, and that the secretary should read, as in a loud voice he did read, the following documents:-
RAISING OF THE CROSS
Be witnesses the heavens and the earth, and the sea with all its inhabitants,
and those who are present, that I, the Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros,
in these parts which up to the present time have been unknown, raise and
plant in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the eternal Father, and of the
Holy Virgin Mary, true God and man, this sign of the Holy Cross, on which
His most holy body was crucified, and where He gave His life as a ransom
for the whole human race.
In the same place, and at the same time the six following possessions were read, which our people heard with joy and gladness, the eyes of many filling with tears.
ACTS OF POSSESSION
Possession in the name of the most Holy Trinity
Possession in the name of the Catholic Church
Possession in the name of St. Francis and his Order
Possession in the name of the Order of the Holy Ghost
Possession in the name of His Majesty
The reading being finished, all cried with loud voices: "Long live the
King of Spain, Don Philip III, our Lord!" Then we entered the church to
give due thanks to God.