Copper Crucifix Leads to Discovery of Calvert’s History (RELS 348)

According to the article “17th century crucifix unearthed in Ferryland” by an unknown author on July.10, 2014 in The Telegram, Anna Sparrows, an undergraduate student at Memorial University, found a rare copper crucifix in the Colony of Avalon. It is currently being preserved by an archaeological conservator; Donna Teasdale. The astonishing feature about this artifact that has captured the attention of many is that it may have belonged to George Calvert himself. Calvert played a significant role in Canada, especially in Newfoundland. His vision of his new world colony, in Ferryland, set him aside from other colonialists. Before his rule Catholics were fined, imprisoned and even executed for openly practicing their religious beliefs. But Calvert’s forward thinking ideas made this colony in Newfoundland “the birthplace of Religious toleration in British North America”. There is evidence showing that this crucifix was repeatedly rubbed therefore indicating that is was a part of a rosary. Catholicism was tolerated in a Protestant colony therefore this crucifix plays an important role in tying together religion with history.

This article also aligns with the RELS 348 class -Religion, Empire and Colonialism-because it provides an example of how colonial powers did not necessarily impact the religion that one practices. In class we learned about Edward Said and his study on Orientalism (I am not saying that Newfoundland is an orient, I am merely providing an example). Said concentrates on the relationship between America and Israel and he believes that colonial powers like America, look at Muslims and their religion as wrong. This has instigated the image that being a Muslim is the equivalent to being a terrorist. I personally do not agree with Said and his perception of Orientalism. Said sits on the assumption that an empire will only bring negative consequences because it is only interested in power over people and controlling every move one takes. I also do not agree with the post-humanist aspects, in which both man and God are dead. I believe that in order to get a full understanding of material, one must realize that man does play a very large part in religion and history. I also believe that you must realize that history plays a key role in Religion, just as Ninian Smart stated that there are four concepts needed to study religion and history is one of them.

In class we also studied Robert Irwin and watched an interview about his comments on Said. One thing that I agree with Irwin is that he states that Said takes general principles and preconceived notions that put the world in a simple black and white picture between the colonial power and the state that is being ruled. In addition, a significant amount of Said’s sources are secondary. I believe that to make statements about history, one must look at archives therefore having grounded evidence. And relating back to how history is very important to understanding religion, I believe that it is important that one has reliable sources and look at the history.

An example where history demonstrates that empires did not control all aspects of the colonised life would be the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Greeks. I learned in my Greek and Roman studies 313 class that a majority of the Greek world was unaffected by the Romans, even when the Roman Empire ruled. In each Greek city there was a Roman Satrap that would give advice to the Greek ruler of the city. During this time Greeks were able to practice their own religion and go on about their own daily lives. The only time when the Roman Empire intervened was to collect taxes.

I feel like this article correlates very well with this course because in class we discuss the power of colonialism and even in the article it talks about how England (The British Empire) suppressed the Catholic Religion. The British Empire was predominately a Christian (protestant) religion. When Calvert made history by allowing religious tolerance, it was one of the first steps towards diversity (one thing that Canada is known for). And according to the article, the crucifix being found in Calvert’s house means that either Calvert or one of his family members were able to colonize Ferryland under the British rule(with Protestant/Anglican religion) even though they may have practiced Catholicism. It is evident that empires did not restrict all aspects of life; people could have their own ideologies and practice them.

In conclusion, this crucifix is as very important discovery especially when looking at the history of Ferryland and Calvert and the catholic religion in Newfoundland. I believe that this article is an excellent example of how religion and history directly correlate and shows that empires were not controlling all aspects to an individual’s life, there was still variance allowed.

#uwreligions #HK


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