The Americas

Mary arrived in the Americas with the first great navigators who discovered the New World, at the end of the 15th century. In 1992, Pope John Paul II traveled to the American continent to mark and celebrate the fifth centenary of its evangelization (1492). This is the date that Christopher Columbus unknowingly reached the waters of Central America, on his ship fittingly named the "Santa Maria". He caught sight from the deck of that "new continent", later called the "Americas" after Americus Vesputius (d. 1512).

From Latin America...

It was mainly in America (Central and South America) that the Catholic faith and its Marian piety first developed. To this day there are innumerable sanctuaries consecrated to the Virgin (most often dedicated to her "Immaculate Conception") in these regions where fervent crowds, sometimes in the millions at a time rush to the great spiritual rendezvous of the Immaculate Mother of God! It is enough to mention the name of the great sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico to get the idea!

The Church likes to call the Latin American sub-continent the "Continent of the Future," because of the growing number of religious and priestly vocations in the past few decades.

to North America...

As for the North American subcontinent, Marian piety was spread through the Spanish and French missionaries, as early as the 16th century. To mention a few in the southern United States and in Canada:

  • in the southern states of the modern U.S. (New Mexico among others) the American natives were largely evangelized at that time through the establishment of Catholic missions sent from Europe;
  • in French Canada, the first Catholic colony erected into a city was named "Ville-Marie" (Mary's town) in honor of the Blessed Virgin, in the 17th century. You can still find, on a map of Terra Nova dated from 1527, the names of Notre Dame Bay, Conception Bay and St. Mary's Bay for the three bays of the eastern and south eastern coasts of the country...

It is believed that these names were given by a Portuguese explorer named Gaspar de Cortereal. But the adventures of Jacques Cartier are well-known too: the French navigator departed from Saint Malo to explore the Northern seas on a ship called "Marie, Etoile de la mer" ("Mary Star of the Sea") but reached instead, in 1534, Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador, and was at the origin of the small colony which became in 1642 "Ville-Marie."

Since the end of the 20th century, a renewal of Catholic and Marian fervor

Soon the Protestant Reformation took precedence over a large part of North America and the Federation of the United States of America was established by political leaders mainly originating from the reformed Church. However, since the end of the twentieth century, a renewal of Catholic and Marian fervor has been observed, particularly with the younger generations, thanks in part to the continuous immigration of Latino-American populations, and to the great impact of Pope Saint John Paul II's apostolic visits.