Eastern Home & Travel May/June 2017 - Page 25

CURIOSITIES ST. CLEMENT'S ISLAND, A MUST-VISIT FOR MARYLAND-LOVING HISTORY BUFFS BY TY UNGLEBOWER March 25, 1634: About 150 settlers, many of them Roman Catholic, arrive at a small island aboard two ships. The larger of the two vessels, The Ark, and the smaller, the Dove, had undergone a trying months-long trip from the Isle of Wight in England. Under the leadership of practicing Catholic George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore, the settlers aboard the Ark and the Dove departed King Charles I’s England for several reasons. Catholics such as Calvert undertook the journey to escape religious intolerance from fellow English citizens. Protestants also came, hoping to seize advantage of new economic opportunities offered by the New World. Vicious storms, fever, pirate attacks, various stops and delays along the way at other ports and a separation during which the Dove was falsely believed to have sunk, all plagued the two ships for months. Nevertheless by that day in March both ships arrived at the unassuming island, having lost only two souls during the odyssey. They disembarked, and named the land St. Clement’s Island, in honor of Pope Saint Clement, the patron saint of mariners in the Catholic church. Later that day (as is widely accepted by scholars) a Jesuit priest, Father Andrew White, led the settlers in a celebration of Mass. This was to be the first Roman Catholic Eucharist ever held in the British colonies in America. Under the land charter granted by the English crown to George Calvert, the settlers were the first European citizens of the province of Maryland. In other words, they became the very first Marylanders, so March 25, the day they landed, is still celebrated as Maryland Day. EASTERN HOME & TRAVEL 25