On this day April 22, 1500

Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral becomes the first European to sight Brazil.

His commission was to establish permanent commercial relations and to introduce Christianity wherever he went, using force of arms if necessary.

The nature of the undertaking led rich Florentine merchants to contribute to the equipment of the ships and also led priests to join the expedition.

Among the captains of the fleet, which consisted of 13 ships with 1,500 men, were Bartolomeu Dias, Pêro Vaz de Caminha, Sancho de Tovar and Nicolau Coelho, the latter the companion of Vasco da Gama. Vasco da Gama himself gave the directions necessary for the course of the voyage.

The fleet of thirteen ships left Lisbon on 9 March 1500, and following the course laid down, sought to avoid the calms off the coast of Gulf of Guinea. On leaving the Cape Verde Islands, where Luís Pires was forced by a storm to return to Lisbon, they sailed in a decidedly southwesterly direction.

On 21 April a mountain was visible, to which the name of Monte Pascoal was given; on 22 April Cabral landed on the coast of Brazil, and on 25 April the entire fleet sailed into the harbor called Porto Seguro.

Cabral perceived that the new land lay east of the line of demarcation made by Pope Alexander VI (see Treaty of Tordesillas), and at once sent André Gonçalves (according to other authorities Gaspar de Lemos) to Portugal with the important tidings. Believing the newly-discovered land to be an island he gave it the name of Island of the True Cross (or Island of Vera Cruz) and took possession of it by erecting a cross and holding a religious service.

The service was celebrated by the Franciscan, Father Henrique de Coimbra, afterwards Bishop of Ceuta. The iron cross used in that service is now in Cathedral Treasure in Braga. It was taken back to Brazil for the inauguration of Brasilia in 1960.



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