The first Thanksgiving in America was a Catholic Mass

Did you know that the first “thanksgiving” meal in the United States was not celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, but by Spanish settlers, in what became Florida? And that first “Thanksgiving” was Eucharistic!

Historian Dr. Michael Gannon narrates the events that took place on September 8, 1565.

“When the first Spanish settlers landed in what is now St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, to build a settlement, their first act was to hold a religious service to thank God for the safe arrival of the Spanish fleet… After the Mass, Father Francisco Lopez, the Chaplin of the Spanish ships and the first pastor of St. Augustine, stipulated that the natives from the Timucua tribe be fed along with the Spanish settlers, including Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the leader of the expedition. It was the very first Thanksgiving and the first Thanksgiving meal in the United States.”
continue at Aleteia



  1. Thank you so much for this. My family began the tradition of Catholic Thanksgiving on September 8th. In fact, we made a pilgrimage to St. Augustine before launching our new tradition. Today we still have a pumpkin pie in the oven and a turkey and stuffing and all the other made up trappings for this made up secular holiday. And we are thankful to God today. Very thankful this year! But we give our prayerful Catholic gratitude to God on September 8th and we have Spanish stew similar to fabada in honor of the Spaniards and dear,priests who brought the first real thanksgiving to what would become American soil.

  2. While I think the point of this post is the most important thing (namely the primacy of the Eucharist in our expressions of thanks), being raised in the Panhandle of Florida where I also received my first degrees in both Religion and History, I do have to share that the location and date of the first Mass on American soil is actually fiercely debated in the Sunshine State as Pensacola Beach lays claim to this as Mass for the Feast of the Assumption was celebrated on August 15, 1559.

    A large white Cross on one of the sand dunes marks the location to this day. Unfortunately the Pensacola settlement did not survive, making St. Augustine the first "permanent" settlement, six years later in 1565.

    Either way though, God is so good, and the gift of the Eucharist is the ultimate proof of that goodness!

  3. Facinating history...comments included for this northern public school gal! Thanks for sharing!


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