|Born||Unknown, but before 31 October 1451 Genoa, Republic of Genoa, in present-day Italy|
|Died||20 May 1506 (probably 54) Valladolid, Crown of Castile, in present-day Spain|
|Spouse||Filipa Moniz Perestrelo (c. 1455–85)|
- Genoa, Republic of Genoa, in present-day Italy
- Unknown, but before October 31, 1451 – Born
- October 11, 1492 – Christoper Columbus arrives in America
“God made me the messenger of the new heaven and new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John after having spoken of it throught the mouth of Isaiah; and he showed me the spot where to find it.” – Christopher Columbus
Life Sketch from The Other Eminent Men of Wilford WoodruffCopyright © Taken from the book: The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff. Special thanks to Vicki Jo Anderson. Please do not copy. Discover of the New World 1451-1506 Christopher Columbus is one of the eminent spirits which appeared to President Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple on August 21, 1877. This interesting story is detailed in the Eminent Spirits Appear to Wilford Woodruff wiki.
“God made me the messenger of the new heaven and new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John after having spoken of it throught the mouth of Isaiah; and he showed me the spot where to find it.”
– Christopher ColumbusColumbus did not see himself as solely responsible for the discovery of what he felt were the Indies. He acknowledged the hand of God in his work. “When I was very young,” wrote Columbus “I went to sea to sail and I continue to do it today…. I have found Our Lord very well disposed towards my desire, and I have from him the spirit of intelligence for carrying it out. He had bestowed the marine arts upon me in abundance and that which is necessary to me from astrology, geometry, and drawing spheres and situating upon them the twons, the rivers, mountains, islands and ports, each in its proper place.” 1 To King Ferdiand and Queen Isabella, Columbus wrote:
- I spent six years here at your royal court, disputing the case with so many people of great authority, learned in all the arts. Finally they concluded that it was all in vain, and that they lost interest. In spite of that [voyage to the Indies] later came to pass as Jesus Christ our Savior had predicted and as he had previously announced through the mouths of his hold prophets. [Here Columbus’s Books of Prophecies contains some scriptural references Psalm 2:6-8, Psalm 18:43-44, Psalm 22:27-28, Isaiah 14:1-2, John 10:16, etc.]
- If what I myself say does not seem to be sufficient evidence of this, I offer that of the Holy Gospel, which says that everything shall lass save for His marvelous Word. And in saying that, it says that everything must come to pass as it has been written by Him and the prophets….I have already said that reason, mathematics, and mappaemundi were of no use to me in the execution of the enterprise of the Indies. What Isaiah said was completely fulfilled. 2
Early LifeLittle is known of Columbus’s family, but there has been much speculation about it. Columbus was the eldest son of Domenico Colombo, a weaver, and Suzanna Fontanarossa. He was born in or near Genoa. From his home Columbus gained a depth of feeling for spiritual things. His brother Bartholomew, a noted navigator of the time, was devoted to Columbus and to Columbus’s work. Columbus wrote to a member of the royal court: “I am not the first Admiral of my family. Let them call me, then by what name they will, for after all, David, that wisest of kings, tended sheep and was later made king of Jerusalem, and I am the servant of Him Who raised David to that high estate.” 3
Near-Death ExperienceColumbus had a somewhat ruddy complexion and is reported to have blue eyes and a freckled fair complexion which stood out in contrast to some of his darker companions. He left to sail the seas at the age of fourteen. His son Ferdinand described an incident that occurred to his father during this time. Columbus was on a ship, returning from Flanders when it engaged in battle with a foreign ship. The two ships grappled and men crossed form boat to boat; the slaughter on both sides was without mercy. The fight lasted most of the day until the ships began to burn. To keep from being burned alive the survivors had to jump overboard, even though, for many this meant certain death. An excellent swimmer Columbus was able to swim to shore, although land was more than two leagues away (the equivalent of six miles). He found an oar, which, his son writes, fate provided to preserve his father for greater things. Since his ships usually sailed from Portugal, Columbus made his home there and worked as a map maker. While on shore, Columbus frequented the Convent of the Saints, where he attended mass. There he met a religious lady of minor nobility, Dona Felipa Moniz Perestrello, whom he later married. It was only fitting that he should find her in his chosen place of worship. Columbus’s deceased father-in-law had been governor of an island belonging to Portugal, an island situated near the edge of known parts of the western ocean. He had also been a sea captain and had a good collection of maps. The young couple moved in with Felipa’s widowed mother, who saw the interest Columbus had in the maps and she gave him her husband’s collection. These maps exited him and strengthened his conviction of a western rout to the Indies. Marriage seemed to mature Columbus’s convictions, and he began in earnest to bring about the work to which he had been called. Columbus and his wife soon moved to the island of Santo Porto. Here he learned that strange items had been washed upon the shore of local beaches including carved pieces of wood unlike any in Europe. There were huge hollowed out carved pine-tree trunks, which he would later discover were made by Indians and called “canoes.” Most significant, two bodies of dead men washed up on shore. Their features differed from those of the known races, the known world of Columbus’s day extending on the north to Iceland and Scandinavia, south to a cape 100 miles south of the Equator, to the east as far as China and Japan, and to the west as far as the Azores. After Marco Polo’s travel’s were highly publicized, Columbus felt it was an opportune moment to approach the king of Portugal. But the King of Portugal merely sent him to a board of “learned men,” who scoffed at his ideas and turned down his request for a western voyage. Soon after, Columbus’s wife died, and Columbus returned to Spain with his young son.
Seeking an Audience with Kings of Spain, England, France, and PortugalIn Spain Columbus became again the subject of criticism. Many churchmen assailed him because he maintained the existence of inhabited lands on the other side of the earth. His presumption implied to them the presence of nations not descended from Adam, because it was impossible for those inhabitant to have crossed the ocean. According to the ecclesiastical leaders, Columbus’s belief was an attempt to discredit the Bible. 4 In spite of such criticism, Columbus worked steadily to obtain his goal. He sent his brother England, in the hope of obtaining support for his ideas. He also knew that if he were to convince Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, he would need the backing of learned men of the day. With that in mind, he wrote to Paolo Toscanelli, the leading savant of Italy and probably the most knowledgeable cosmographer of his day. Toscanelli responded with a copy of a letter that he had previously written to a friend in Portugal. He stated that from all his research and knowledge, there definitely had to be land to the west. Armed with this information, Columbus approached the sovereigns of Spain. But Spain was in the mist of one of the last great battles against the Moors, and so they, too, referred Columbus to a board of learned men. Again, Columbus’s visionary plan was rejected. Queen Isabel, feeling impressed that Columbus’s work was of great importance, told him not to give up and to try again. However, the court would not listen while Spain was at war. Some believed that God gave victory to Isabel and Ferdinand in the Battle of Granada so that they would be able to support Columbus’s plan. Hopeful that the king and queen would personally listen to his proposal, Columbus returned to court and was again referred to the group of learned men. In despair Columbus decided to visited the King of France, having already sent his brother to seek support from the courts of England. In his Books of Prophecies, Columbus quotes an ancient writer who prophesied that hte person who would open the way for the return to Mount Zion would come out of Spain. Columbus felt that his voyage to the west would help open the way for the reinstatement of Jerusalem and the fulfillment of the prophecy. 5 Nevertheless, the mission itself mattered more than from where the support came, and so he set off for France. Stopping at the mission of La Rabida to picked up his son, Columbus gained the sympathetic ear of the friars, particularly the good Prior Perez (who had been the queen’s confessor). The prior believed Columbus and sent for his very educated friend, Dr. Garcia Hernandez. Dr. Hernandez agreed with the prior, and at last Columbus received support from some ecclesiastical and secular leaders. Prior Perez left immediately for the royal court, and his endorsement convinced Isabel to grand permission for Columbus’s voyage. After meeting with Perez, she sent a messenger to bring Columbus back. Columbus told the queen what he needed for the trip and also asked for certain rewards. Some people point to these rewards as evidence that Columbus sought only glory and wealth. However, Columbus was to be granted the rewards only if he discovered something of value that was approved by the king and queen. Columbus wrote, “I want it understood that I will not put prices high or low to valuables or land that I discover. I have the authority from your Royal Highness to decide or not to decide but only under your authorization.” 6 Many people in the court did not believe Columbus’s theory, but they still felt Columbus was greedily asking for titles and tenths (the rewards that Columbus requested). Ironically, those in court who felt he was greedy in asking for titles and tenths were the same people who believed there was nothing on the other side to be found. Upon obtaining approval from the royal court, Columbus went to Palo, Spain, to purchase ships and obtain supplies. With the help of the Pinzon brothers, who became captains, they were able to take on fairly good crews. The three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, set sail on 2 August 1492.
Leaving Spain, and threat of MutinyThe crew left Spain filled with great apprehension about the trip. The voyage lasted much longer than Columbus expected, rations ran low, the men became mutinous and wanted to turn back. During this time Columbus wrote that he stood in need of God’s help as much as Moses had when he was leading the children out of Israel our of Egypt. The Israelites dared not lay violent hands upon Moses on account of the miracles God had wrought in his behalf, and the crewmen dared not resort to violence towards Columbus for much the same reason. Soon the grumbling returned, and the other two captains met with Columbus in his cabin. They informed him that they could no longer restrain the men. Columbus asked for three days more days, and the two captains agreed. Columbus did not record what happened after he shut the door behind the two captains. Surely he must have poured his heart out to God as he had never done before, They were so close to victory and he knew it. He seems to have received some sort of assurance. That night Columbus entered into his journal that his name was now to be Christo-feren, meaning Christ bearer. 7 The next day, the crew pursue what they thought was land. All day long they followed the sighting only to discover that it was a cloud. However, this pursuit was not in vain as the ship covered more than double the leagues ever traveled in one day. Birds began appearing in abundance, and the crew found a branch with berries on it, floating in the water. They knew that land was not far away.
Discovering LandThe Pinzon brothers felt that they should turn northward. But Columbus’s sense of “dead reckoning” had them stay on course. On 11 October, at about 10 o’clock P.M., Columbus was walking on the deck, when he suddenly saw a light straight ahead that seemed to rise and fall as if someone were walking with a candle or a lantern. Columbus called to those near him, and they agreed the light was definite enough that if must have come from land. About two hours after midnight, they spotted land. At daybreak they saw an island. On shore there were people running to see their ships approach. After the anchors were dropped, Columbus and his men went ashore in their finest silks and velvets. With royal banners of their sovereigns in hand, Columbus knelt on the sand and kissed it. Tears of joy streaming from Columbus’s eyes, as he rendered thanks to Almighty God and christened the island San Salvador, in honor of his Savior. 8
- When Columbus and his men sighted the lands of this hemisphere in October 1492, one of their first acts was to fall on their knees and give thanks to God. There is evidence that they were directed to these shores by the hand of Providence (1 Nephi 3:12).
- (Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 569.)
Terrible Storm, and arriving in SpainColumbus explored several islands, and established a fort at La Navidad, then set sail for Spain. The return trip was not without danger. As the ships came near the Azores, there arose the worst storm ever recorded in history. The storm raged for fifteen days. Finally, they were able to put in at the Azores, but when they left these islands, they were met by another raging storm that caused critical damage to the vessels. It required all Columbus’s skills and experience to geide his broken ship into the Lisbon port. The people there were ecstatic to greet Columbus and his crew. The King of Portugal treated him kindly. What a glorious day for that great kingdom and for the Christian queen who had always believed in Columbus!
Broken HealthColumbus made three more trips to the new world, and then his health gave out. Disheartened with the greed and lust that were wreaking havoc in the newly discovered land, in 1496 he wrote to the king and queen begging that the same laws existing in Spain be applied to the islands, and that all people–including the Indians–have the same justice. He wrote: “Procure for the Indians, that are coming under our rule, the same rules and protections as those we have been speaking of [here in Spain]. These rules apply to those in power and those not in power equally. I want them to have the same protection like I have as if they were my own flesh.” 9 In 1497, he pleaded again:
- I worry immensely about the future. I do not know what will happen in years to come. But we will discover new lands and we will negotiate in some of them according to the law of Castile and if this is not ruled by a strong hand then we will lose and rip apart our future and we will lose everything. I am afraid we will be misunderstood. I tell you to do it this way because gold is not everything. 10
DeathColumbus died on 20 May 1506 in the city of Valladolid, Spain. His dying words were “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spirituem meum,”12 which translated means, “Into thy hands, God, I commend my spirit.” Copyright © Taken from the book: The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff. Special thanks to Vicki Jo Anderson. Please do not copy. 
Inspired Statements“It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel his hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous inspiration from the Holy Scriptures…. For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied…” 13
Columbus and Connection to TempleTimothy Ballard, in his book “The American Covenant” points out,
Indeed, by embarking upon his [Columbus’] journey, he was working towards a goal that would touch the very core of God’s latter-day Restoration. Columbus’ mind and heart was locked on the temple of God! As the renowned LDS scholar Hugh Nibley pointed out, “[Columbus] wished to discover the Indies to get enough money to rebuild the temple [at Jersualem],” so that his fellow Christians might “go back to the temple to the Holy of Holies.”14 In her 2006 article, “Columbus’s Goal: Jerusalem,” Stanford scholar Carol Delaney laments the fact that, even today, too many intellectuals–blinded by preconceived notions–fail to see that “[Columbus’] ultimate goal, the purpose behind the enterprise, was Jerusalem!” She concludes that Columbus firmly believed that “what he accomplished was not so much a ‘discovery’ but a revelation–an important step in uncovering God’s plan.”15 Delaney’s colleague, Leonard Sweet, adds that Columbus’ voyage was not a commercial venture as much as it was a “spiritual quest” and a “medium of redemption.”16 17
Presidents of the Church on Columbus
Joseph Smith“I lead the way like Columbus when he was invited to a banquet where he was assigned the most honorable place at the table, and served with the ceremonials which were observed towards sovereigns. A shallow courier present, who was meanly jealous of him, abruptly asked him whether he thought that in case he had not discovered the Indies, there were not other men in Spain who would have been capable of the enterprise? Columbus made no reply, but took an egg and invited the company to make it stand on end. They all attempted it, but in vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table so as to break on end, and left it standing on the broker part, illustrating that when he had once shown the way to the new world nothing was easier than to follow it.” 18
Brigham Young“The Almighty . . . moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep to discover the American Continent; he moved upon the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and he moved up Washington to fight and conquer, in the same way as he moved upon ancient and modern prophets, each being inspired to accomplish the particular work he was called to perform in the times, seasons, and dispensations of the Almighty. God’s purpose, in raising up these men and inspiring them with daring sufficient to surmount every opposing power, was to prepare the way for the formation of a true Republican government.” 19
John Taylor“Could we have been placed in any better position than we are today? No. What has been the object of God for sometime? In the first place He operated upon Columbus to come and find this land.” 20
Wilford Woodruff“Columbus was inspired of God to persevere as he did to discover this continent, and thus prepare the way for the class of people upon whom the Spirit of the Lord moved to follow.” 21 “When Columbus was moved upon by the Spirit of God, to cross the ocean to find a new continent, his object and desires were unpopular with those by whom he was surrounded.” 22
Ezra Taft Benson“God inspired “a man among the Gentiles” 23 who, by the Spirit of God was led to rediscover the land of America and bring this rich new land to the attention of the people ionEurope. That man, of course, was Christopher Columbus, who testified that he was inspired in what he did.” 24 “The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other founding fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was President of the St, George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a High Priest at that time. You will also be interest to know that according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained High Priests at the time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to God for it.” 25
Other Statements on Columbus
Parley P. Pratt“Hence we contemplate that small beginning made by the American pioneers of religion and liberty; we contemplate how that influence has spread and increased in the earth, influencing the feelings of individuals as well as national institutions . . . until by and by the rest of the world is overwhelmed, that it is obliged to bow to their superior greatness.” 26
Orson Pratt“Some of [the religious reformers] were wrought upon to come to this continent for the purpose of securing to themselves religious freedom and religious right; and inspired by the Almighty, as was Columbus, who discovered this land, they planted their feet upon the American soil.” 27 “While the iron hand of despotism thus held the nations within its withering grasp, enslaving both body and soul, the great God, near the close of the fifteenth century, moved upon the mind of Columbus, and inspired him to fearlessly launch forth upon the great expanse of unknown waters on the west of Europe; and guided by the invisible agency of the Holy Spirit, he revealed to the down trodden, despairing nations, a new world.” 28
George Q. Cannon“Columbus was inspired to penetrate the ocean and discover this Western continent, for the set time for its discover had come, and the consequences which God desired to follow its discover have taken place—a free government has been established on it. The men who established the Government were inspired of God—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and all the fathers of the Republic were inspired to do the work which they did. We believe it was a prepatory work for the establishment of the kingdom of God. This Church and kingdom could not have been established on the earth of their work and not been performed.” 29 “This land was kept secret until Columbus was moved upon by the Spirit of God, to go forth and penetrate the western ocean. Then the land was settled and a government was formed under the protecting aegis of liberty, and a place was found for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 30 “This land was kept for this purpose. For centuries it was hidden from all the nations of the earth. It was not until the 15th century that God inspired Columbus to go forth and seek a passage across the Atlantic, and land upon some of the islands adjacent to this continent. His track was followed by other.” 31
Orson Hyde“This same angel [Moroni] presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington, and by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world. This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow any obstacle in his way to great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.” 32 “Observe Christopher Columbus in his silent meditations; mark his untiring and faithful observations! Behold him watching the western breeze, and marking, with zealous eye and anxious heart, ever substance that floated on the ocean’s eastward bound current. . . . Inspired of the Almighty God of Heaven, he encountered the ridicule and jeer of a faithless and unbelieving world. . . . The Spirit Angel was their guardian and their guide, and was with them on the stormy deep.” 33 “Compare the coming of the Saints here, with the banishment of Joseph intoEgypt, and the manner in whichColumbuswas sent off on his perilous exploration, and note the conclusion that follows. The world dreaded the germs of greatness which they saw.” 34 “There must needs be opposition in all things. We are told that in 1492 this American continent was discovered by Christopher Columbus. Look at the exertions made by him to obtain the necessary means to effect the discovery. It required ships, mean and men to enable him to make his way across the trackless deep. . . . The Spirit of God came upon him and had no rest day or night until he accomplished what the Spirit wrought upon him to do. . . . He applied to different crowned heads, and received rebuffs and discouragements. He was poor; the plans of Jehovah are mostly carried out by humble and poor individuals. So it was with Columbus; he was poor, but daring and persevering, and with a soul formed within his bosom to understand and prosecute the great enterprise that was to bring to light a vast content reserved in the providence of God.” 35
Orson F. Whitney“We believe . . . that Joseph Smith was inspired to begin this work, just as Galileo [sic],Columbus, and other mighty men of old whom I have not mentioned, were inspired to gradually pave the way leading to this dispensation.” 36
John A. Widtsoe“The world owes most to the men, great and small, who in the name of truth have dared to challenge tradition. . . . In the public square of Genoa, 120 miles north of Pisa, stands a heroic monument to Christopher Columbus, one of the finest in Genoa, and dreamed his great dreams there. A few miles northward, a little village puffs and blows because in it Columbus was born. Yet, when he challenged the geographical tradition of his day, he was scorned by his compatriots, and even when he had discovered America, jealousy and misunderstanding landed him in prison and left him broken-hearted. Nevertheless, the great era of geographical exploration and human progress is indeed but the story of the men who have loved truth above all else, and who have refused to be coerced by unsupported tradition, however powerful its advocates have been.” 37
Mark E. Peterson“The vision [1 Nephi 13:12] then became more specific. Says Nephi:
“And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.”It was Christopher Columbus whom he saw, and he observed that the discoverer was guided by divine power on his journey.” 38
FAQsCOLUMBUS CHARACTER: Was Columbus a selfish murderer seeking gold and fame at the cost of the Native American race?
ProductsThe Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff
Related ArticlesEminent Spirits Appear to Wilford Woodruff (articles on most of those who appeared)
TimelineChristopher Columbus on the timeline
- Watts, Pauline Moffitt. “Prophecy and Discovery: On Spiritual Origins Christopher Columbus’s Interprise of the Indies.” American Historical Review (Feb. 1985), p. 95.
- Ibid, p. 96.
- Columbus Ferdinand. The Life of Admiral Christopher Columbus by His Son Ferdinand Columbus. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1959, Amsterdam Books, 1903, p. 75.
- See Lester, Edwards. The Life and Voyages of Vespucci. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1903, p. 75.
- Watts, p. 95.
- Columbus, Christopher. Letters to King Ferdinand & Queen Isabel 1496 Raccolta Collection. Racolta Di Documenti E Studi Publicicate Dalla R. Commissione Coloumbiana Pel Quarto Centenario Dalla Scoperta Dell America, Appendix Roma 1894, p. 270.
- Marshal, Peter. The Light and the Glory New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1940, p. 39.
- See Columbus, Ferdinand, p. 59.
- Columbus, Christopher, p. 270.
- Ibid, Letters, Dec. 1497, p. 270.
- Lester, p. 79.
- Columbus, Ferdinand, p. 284.
- Christopher Columbus, Book of Prophecies. “…a compilation of the teachings and prophecies from the Bible on the subject of the earth, distant lands, population movements, and undiscovered tribes, as well as similarly pertinent writings of the ancient Church fathers. Available only in Spanish … much of this work has been privately translated by August J. Kling, who quoted these excerpts in an article in The Presbyterian Layman, October 1, 1971,” quoted in Peter Marshall, David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming, H. Revell Company, 1977) p. 17.
- Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992), 31.
- Carol Delaney (2006), “Columbus’s Ultimate Goal: Jerusalem.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48, pp. 261-287.
- Leonard Sweet, “Christopher Columbus and the Millenial Vision of the New World,” The Catholic Historical Review 72, 3 (1986), 383.
- Timothy Ballard, The American Covenant, Vol. I, p. 93.
- Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith 304
- Journal of Discourses 7:13
- JD 23:19
- JD 23:82
- JD 24:4
- 1 Nephi 13:12
- (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 577)
- (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 604)
- JD 1:43
- JD 3:72
- JD 7:214
- JD 14:55
- JD 21:201
- JD 23:103
- JD 6:368
- JD 7:107-08
- JD 10:376
- JD 10:375
- JD 24:201
- (Man and the Dragon 67-69)
- (The Great Prologue 3)