August 1, 2011: A Walk Through American History

~ by Mary Galvano

Traveling up to Maryland, what started out as a simple visit with family ended up being a journey back in time. With my brother as my tour guide I was led through some of our country’s rich history. Some of it was happy, some of it was sad.

This part of the country is breathtaking with its rolling hills, sparkling waters, and luscious green trees. The trees stand a lot taller there than in Florida. The wildlife was abundant, too!

We toured landmarks and parks such as the Fort Lincoln, Point Lookout State Park where President Lincoln visited during the Civil War. The trip to Washington D.C. was awesome! I could just close my eyes and imagine all that happened there as I passed by memorials and took walks through the Smithsonian museums. There was so much to consume it was overwhelming!

I especially was moved with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Memorial. As stated, Franklin Roosevelt remains intimately connected to the National Park Service. In referring to the special quality of national parks Roosevelt stated that “there is nothing so American.” He captured the essential truth of the agency by declaring, “the fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”

Perhaps, though, the most moving and spiritual part of my trip was the knowledge of how many times the Catholic faith has been a part of our nation’s history, and persecuted. Even the Washington Monument has some Catholic history. But, nothing said this more than a small historic village called St. Mary’s City, Maryland, established during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

St. Mary’s City is one of the most historic locations in the United States. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark since 1969, it is the best-preserved founding site of a 17th-century English colony in North America. St. Mary’s was the scene of many notable events in America’s early history. One in which is the claim of being the first Catholic community in English-America with the first Catholic chapel. Conflicts soon developed, though.

The investors in Maryland were Catholic and the majority of workers the investors transported to build the colony were Protestant, creating potential religious conflict that could destroy Maryland. To avoid this, a progressive policy of liberty of conscience was instituted, allowing people of varied faiths to freely worship in Maryland. Related to this was another revolutionary decision that the colony would have no official established religion, neither Catholic nor Protestant.

The colony for a while was at peace and was prosperous, but political and religious animosity rose again and a group of disgruntled Protestants led a revolution against Catholic Lord Baltimore, whom led the community, in 1689. The colonial statehouse was turned into a Protestant (Anglican) church in the same year; and in 1704 the principle of liberty of conscience was dramatically overturned when Catholic churches and schools were closed in accordance with “An Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery within this Province.” Abandoned for the most part, St. Mary’s City sank back into the soil from which it had arisen and by the time of the American Revolution, little of Lord Baltimore’s capital was left but memories of its former importance.

Thanks to historical research and archaeologists the village is now one of the finest 17th landmarks. One moving artifact I saw was a one-decade ring rosary. It is similar to ring rosaries we have today. The ring rosary was used because it could be easily concealed in the hand, a useful feature in England where the public practice of the Catholic religion was forbidden in the 17th century.

This town, and trip, truly taught me an example of the sacrifices Catholics have gone through in early America, and abroad. We must continue walking in the faith of the one and only Holy Catholic Church. No matter the cost. We have the examples and courage of our own American ancestors to look up to for this.

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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