In the late sixteenth century six Spanish Franciscan priests came to what is now the Georgia coast to minister to the native people called the Guale.
By 1597 there were five missions in Coastal Georgia where Franciscan friars preached the Gospel, learned the indigenous Guale language and lived peacefully with the native population. Most Guale natives not only embraced Christianity but also welcomed European goods such as glass beads, metal tools, various cloths and other luxury items.
The friars lived among the Guale without any military presence, giving evidence to the good relations between the Guale and the missionaries.
In September 1597, due to the friars not allowing a baptized Guale man to take a second wife, the heir to the Guale chiefdom ordered the death of the friars. Over a three-day period, five of the six friars were killed.
The names of the five Georgia Martyrs are Friar Pedro de Corpa, Friar Blas de Rodriguez, Friar Miguel de Anon, Friar Antonio de Badajoz, and Friar Francisco de Verascola. The
sixth Friar Francisco de Avila was kidnapped and tortured until he was liberated months later.
Please go to www.thegeorgiamartyrs.org to learn more of the cause for the five Georgia Martyrs canonization.