Santo Domingo (Agenzia Fides) - In April 1493, Christopher Columbus returned from his first trip to America and met the Spanish Royal family in the Cenobio de La Murtra (Badalona), which was entrusted to the friars of St. Geronimo. There lived a young hermit named Ramón Pané, who was about 25 years old. During the audience, Columbus told the royals what he had found, and especially some people of the indigenous group of Tainos, who at that time were called "Indians" by him because he believed he had landed in India. When he heard about these people, Ramón Pané felt God's call to bring them the gospel and to speak to them about Christianity.
Ramón Pané was therefore part of Columbus' second journey when he arrived on November 28, 1493 in Puerto Plata in what is now the Dominican Republic, where the first Christian church was built. He accompanied the first evangelization and took part in the first mass on the continent on January 6, 1494. Ramón made friends with Guaticaba and his family and learned their language in order to evangelize them. After two and a half years, on September 21, 1496, Guaticaba was baptized together with 16 members of his family under the name Juan Mateo and was Ramon's faithful companion in evangelization.
Juan Mateo and his entire family were killed for their conversion. Ramon in his short book tells of the martyrdom of Juan Mateo, and reports that he said when they killed him: "I am the servant of God". In September 1994, John Paul II described him and his relatives in a letter marking the 500th anniversary of their first baptism as "the first martyrs for the Christian faith in America".
The foundation named after him has now dedicated a documentary entitled "The first evangelizer of America: Ramón Pané" to the figure of Ramón Pané, who became known as the first evangelizer, missionary, ethnologist, anthropologist, teacher, translator and linguist. The film was released yesterday, December 10th, on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (Ramón Pané Foundation). The film documents the first evangelization in America and the actions of the young settler, as well as the testimony of Juan Mateo and his family who suffered martyrdom for converting to Christianity. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 11/12/2020)