Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica

Article excerpt

History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica. By Francis J. Osborne, SJ. (Chicago: Loyola University Press. 1988. Pp. xii, 532. $12.95.)

Father Osborne's history is a very important contribution to the knowledge of this Caribbean island. Not much has been written on the religious development of Jamaica. It was part of the Spanish empire from the voyages of Columbus until the English wrested the island from Spain in 1655.

This book is centered on the history of the Catholic Church during the Spanish and English periods.The influence of this institution during the Spanish period is so pervasive that most information on the Church is related to the political administration and social development. This primal role makes the book a worthy one.

To be able to give the reader a general understanding of the long history of the Catholic presence in Jamaica, Father Osborne begins with the Arawak Indian period and follows with their evangelization and the establishment of the institutional Church administered by abbots (a unique case in the history of the colonial Church) in 1516. When the island was taken by Protestant England in 1655 a new religious development took place; the Catholic Church was reduced to a secondary role in the colony. From that time until the first half of the nineteenth century, the Church merely survived, administered by charismatic missionary priests. …

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