About 10 years ago it was quite popular in Australian Pentecostal circles to refer to a so-called prophecy made by a Portuguese sea captain claiming
Australia for the Holy Spirit There were references to it in songs, and one all about it. One preacher made part of his
living by writing a book about it and subsequent speaking engagemnts at churches around the country. I did a little (and I mean a little)
digging around on the internet one afternoon and debunked the whole thing. Below is reproduced a paper I wrote up and tried to get circulating on the
email circuit, needless to say it didnt take off. Make sure to read the footnotes in the second part.
Pedro Fernandez de Quiros – A Prophet Over Australia?
By Xxxxxxxx Xxxxx
September 15, 2006
In 2006 we will celebrate our Christian heritage by recognising this year as the 400th Anniversary of the prophetic declaration regarding "THE GREAT
SOUTHLAND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
- From the Australian Prayer Network website.
The 14th May - the day of Pentecost 2006 - marks the 400 year anniversary of Australia being named 'Southland of the Holy Spirit'. God's hand has
been upon Australia for the last 400 years
The significance of the number '400' throughout the Bible:
٠ 400 years was the time of silence between the Old and New Testaments
٠ God brought his people out from 400 years of bondage.
٠ 800 of our forefathers were largely responsible for the liberation of Jerusalem from 400 years of Ottoman – Turkish Muslim rule.
- From Col Stringer Ministries website.
On Pentecost Sunday 14th May 1606 Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, a Portuguese navigator in the employ of Catholic Spain, reached the islands later called
the New Hebrides and now the independent nation of Vanuatu. De Quirós landed on a large island which he took to be part of the mythical southern
continent, and named it La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo*, not the Southern Land of the Holy Spirit but, the Austrian Land of the Holy Spirit, in
honour of the Hapsburgs who ruled Spain at that time and were known as the House of Austria†. He claimed all the land to the south for the King of
Spain and the Catholic church, and being Pentecost Sunday he named it Espirtu Santo as that island is still called today. There he also founded a
colony which he called Nova Jerusalem however the colony was soon abandoned due to the understandable hostility of the Ni-Vanuatu and to disagreements
among the crew.
De Quirós took possession of all the lands he had seen and was yet to see, however he returned home without going any further, never sighting
Australia, nor sailing further westward which would have revealed his mistake. Furthermore he took possession of the island in the name of King Philip
of Spain, Jesus, St Francis and his Order, and also John of God and his Order.
Here is his the fullest translated proclamation of sovereignty that I have been able to find reproduced verbatim with the mistaken translation of
‘Southern’ for ‘Austrian’.
'Let the heavens, the earth, the waters with all their creatures and all those here present witness that I, Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in
these hitherto unknown parts, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Eternal Father and of the Virgin Mary, God and true man, hoist this emblem of
the Holy Cross on which His person was crucified and whereon He gave His life for the ransom and remedy of all the human race, being present as
witnesses all the land and sea-going officers; on this Day of Pentecost, 14 May 1606.
'In these hitherto unknown southern regions where I now am, I have come with the authorisation of the Supreme Pontiff, Clement III, and by order of
our King, Philip III, King of the Spains, etc, promulgated by the Council of State, I, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in the name of the Most Holy Trinity
take possession of all the islands and lands that I have newly discovered and shall discover as far as the pole.
'I take possession of all this part of the South as far as the pole in the name of Jesus. I take possession of all this part of the South as far as
the pole in the name of St Francis and in the name of all his Order and members of it... I take possession of all this part of the South as far as the
pole in the name of John of God and all the professed members of his Order...
'Finally, from this Bay of St Philip and St James and its port of Vera Cruz and from the place where the city to be known as the New Jerusalem is to
be founded, in this latitude of full 15-1/3 degrees, and of all the lands that I have seen and I am seeing of all this part of the South as far as the
'Which from now on shall be called the Southern‡ Land of the Holy Ghost, with all its annexes and dependencies+, and this always and forever, in the
name of King Philip III, who bears the cost and expense of this fleet with which I came to discover the said lands, on whose power and will shall
depend the foundation, government and maintenance of all that is sought both temporally and spiritually for these lands and their peoples, in whose
name these flags are flown and I hoist this his royal standard, in the presence as witnesses of the commander, Luis Baez de Torres, and hoist his
royal standard and the other flags, being further witnesses on this Feast of Pentecost, and on the said day, month and year.'
Far from a “prophetic declaration” over Australia, this declaration was a politically and institutionally motivated grab for land that was already
occupied and claimed by its native peoples. Pedro de Quiros may well have been a Christian man who wanted to convert the natives to Catholicism, but
then again this was the same excuse used by all Christendom to conquer the world and colonise it for their own benefit. None of what he
“prophesied” came to be, this is not a Catholic country (nor is it likely it will ever be), it is not Spanish (or under the Austrian Hapsburgs),
it was not evangelised by the orders of St. Francis or John of God – why then would some people hold onto the naming of it the ‘Austrian Land of
the Holy Spirit’ as some kind of prophecy over this country? It was common for Catholic explorers to call new lands after religious doctrines such
as Trinidad (trinity), Asuncion (assumption), Santa Cruz (holy cross), Vera Cruz (true cross), Corpus Christi (body of Christ, a city in Texas),
Christmas Island, Easter Island, and after lots of Saints depending on what day they first ‘discovered’ them. Does this somehow impart some
special blessing on these places?
edit on 14/10/14 by Cinrad because: (no reason given)
Now I, like all Christians, would love to see a revival in this country, a turning back to Jesus, and I am working for it too, but based on God’s
will and truth, not the kind of falsehood, theological dribble and hype that has accompanied this tiny part of the South Pacific’s history. Imagine
the kind of foothold and legal right the Devil would have over Australia if this fable becomes the motivation and foundation for any evangelical work.
And I know that to some extent ministry has been based on this fable. Nothing good can come from untruths, though you may not see the effects
immediately. It isn’t this particular story alone that I see as a problem, it is the gullibility of the Christians who are taking it in and acting
on it. Where is the spirit of the Bereans who Paul called “of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great
eagerness” and examined “the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11)? The information in this paper was found on
the internet in less than half an hour (though it took me about 3 hours to write it in this form).
In the 19th century some Australian Catholics, living under a Protestant ascendancy, claimed that de Quirós had in fact discovered Australia, in
advance of the Protestants Abel Tasman and James Cook. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney from 1884 to 1911, Francis Cardinal Moran, asserted this to
be a fact, and it was taught in Catholic schools for many years. He claimed that the real site of de Quirós' New Jerusalem was near Gladstone in
Building on this myth, the Australian Catholic poet James McAuley (1917-76) wrote an epic called Captain Quiros (1964), in which he depicted de
Quirós as a martyr for the cause of Catholic Christian civilisation (although he did not repeat the claim that Quirós had discovered Australia). The
heavily political overtones of the poem caused it to be coldly received at a time when much politics in Australia was still coloured by
Catholic-Protestant sectarianism. The Australian writer John Toohey published a novel, Quiros, in 2002.
When de Quirós put to sea again he became separated from the other ships in bad weather finally sailing to Acapulco in Mexico, where he arrived in
November 1606. His second-in-command Luis Váde Torres, after searching in vain for de Quirós, left Espiritu Santo and successfully reached
After de Quiros had sailed to Mexico, he endured hardship and poverty before arriving in Spain in October of 1607. During the next seven years, he
petitioned the Spanish Government for a vessel to resume the search. Fifty of these petitions remain, testimony to the desperation de Quiros felt, and
lack of interest on the part of the authorities. Only through petition number eight, printed in Pamplona in 1610, did the rest of the world learn of
the discoveries, and it was not long before the Dutch and English took full advantage of the news.
Finally in 1614, de Quiros was given a letter addressed to the Viceroy of Peru, ostensibly in which he was to provide ships and assistance. At the
same time a despatch was sent directly to the Viceroy in which the whole matter was left to his discretion. De Quiros became aware of this, but such
was his commitment to his ideal that he expressed a willingness to continue in a subordinate position, as long as the work could continue. However, he
died at Panama in 1615, on his way to Peru.
Had he sailed further south, Aussies might all have been Spanish-speaking Catholics! But God's will was otherwise disposed, and it was left to other
Europeans of predominantly Protestant and Evangelical denominations to found and colonise white Australia.
* Many writers wrongly credit de Quirós with coining the word "Australia" which was actually how the translator of de Quiros’ logbook mistakenly
translated Austrialia in 1625. This name translated ‘Australia’ was later strongly endorsed by Matthew Flinders, who had a translation of de
Quiros’ logbook, and it stuck. Words containing austral refer to the south or southern, from Latin (another example is aurora australis (the
southern hemisphere aurora) as opposed to the aurora borealis (northern hemisphere lights). No doubt the log book translator and Flinders thought
that this would be an appropriate name for ‘down under’.
† The Hapsburgs were the royal family of Austria, one branch had gained Spain and what is now Belgium as part of their realm and they were the
ruling family in Spain at the time.
‡ This should be translated Austrian, not Southern.
+i.e. the annexes and dependencies of the island of Espiritu Santo, the main island in modern day Vanuatu.
As the author of this piece, I stand by the research I have done to faithfully bring to you what I have found from a variety of sources on the
internet. The integrity of the sources are beyond my control, though I have no reason to doubt them.
That was interesting, really good work. It's too late for me to read that much of, though.
We both know that Australians aren't going to turn to the Jesus figure for anything, ever. Nor will they bother with god very much. Why would they?
The god of the bible isn't worth worshipping and therefore must be a demiurge. Even the dumbest among us most likely recognises that we are incapable
of knowing whatever truth there is and therefore instead of worshipping something like stone age desert wanderers, they should just try to be nice -
or at least not do harm.
Especially when they see religion do nothing but harm.
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