Corpus Christi, Texas

Q. How did Corpus Christi, Texas, come to be named for the Body of Christ?


A. When the Spanish Catholic explorers of the New World explored a new area, or established a new settlement, on a particular feast day in the liturgical calendar, they often named it accordingly. On the Feast of Corpus Christi, in 1519, Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda of Spain arrived in the bay where that Texas city now lies on the Gulf Coast, so he gave the bay that name. Much later, in 1859, a settlement was established on the bay that was to become the city of Corpus Christi.


In a similar way, when the Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Áviles established a colony in what is now Florida on September 8, 1565, he named it St. Augustine because his ships of colonists had first sighted land eleven days earlier, August 28, on the feast day of that saint. In fact, Florida had received its name because the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León had landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513, during the Easter season, which the Spanish called Pascua Florida (“Flowery Easter”).