What do Florida, Texas, California, and New Mexico have in common? Spaniards looking for spices, riches, and slaves conquered these places sometime around the fifteenth century. Evidence of who subjugated the land remains today in local directories and on maps.
A Holy Tradition
Franciscans and Spanish soldiers often named New World missions and provinces after saints or places in Spain.
Consider San Juan Capistrano. When I hear that name, I think of swallows nestling in the namesake Mission. Fray Lasuén named this outpost after Giovanni da Capestrano. Born in 1386, Giovanni came from a region of Italy called Abruzzi, specifically the town Capestrano. Giovanni (Italian) and Juan (Spanish) are translations of the English name John. Thus, San Juan Capistrano means Saint John who is from Capestrano.
The Church believed they should expand the territorial boundaries of Spain by evangelizing the Natives. Introducing them to canonized (officially recognized) saints was a good way to begin their instruction. Also, the Franciscans believed in a literal translation of Matthew 24:14, which says, “And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world for a witness unto all nations, and then the end shall come.” But what they didn’t know was geography and the fact that the world was a whole lot bigger than they knew.
Or, why some places begin with Santa and not San
Santa is feminine, Santo is masculine but San is a fine substitute, much like St. which means the same thing as saint. That being said, below is a list of sixty cities sans (sorry) attribution (such extraordinary vocabulary, but this is, after all, a blog post about words). See if you can ascribe the correct honorific (put the right title) in front.
|Ana pueblo Ana Barbara Clara Clarita Cruz Fe Springs Maria Monica Paula Rosa Angelo Anselmo Bernardino Antonio Augustine Benito Benito Bruno Carlos||Catalina Clara Pueblo Clara village Clemente Diego Cloud Cruz Diego Dimas Domingo Pueblo Elizario Fe Felipe Pueblo Fernando Francisco Gabriel Jacinto Joaquin Jose Juan Bautista||Juan Capistrano Leandro Luis Obispo Marcos Marino Mateo Pablo Rafael Ramon Ildefonso Pueblo James city Jo Jon Village Juan Juan Leo Petersburg Rosa Teresa Ysidro Village|
The answers are intentionally not provided. Research the name and you may find interesting tidbits like I did while exploring the history of San Juan Capistrano. I hope you’ll share what you learn about Saint Bruno!