Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Miami History Lesson ...Pope Francis.. A Jesuit From Argentina & Father Benito Vines

Everything links back to the tropics to me in some way.

I wrote on Twitter yesterday while watching endlessly at the bird on the smoke stack who seemed to be waiting for his favorite candidate to get the 77 votes needed to become the next Pope...that I really wanted him to be from South America.

Okay, I'll admit I'd like to see a South American Pope. Almost like Miami. Doubtful, but would love to see it.

Wasn't so doubtful it seems and cannot believe I used that word, must have been totally enthralled in the process of the Papal Election.

Again, I have a degree in International Relations and my background in Religion and History makes me more aware than many of the important political power that the Pope has that goes far beyond any one region. He is a WORLD leader and yet, he has in the past usually been an Italian one or European one even though his influence goes around the world as far away as almost the end of the world... to South America.

South America is MY America.. it should be OUR America and yet for some reason we always look back to our shared European Ancestry that started this country (after we stole it away from the Native American tribes) and rarely realize we are in the AmericaS.  Being from Miami that does not get lost on me as Miami is the capital of the Caribbean and the gateway to South America.

I grew up in Miami in a neighborhood that was as Cuban and Spanish as it was Southern which it was back in the early 60s before the Florida Crackers lost their accents and the Cubans moved north to Broward to get away from the Central Americans and the South Americans and the flow of demographics continues always in Miami as to show is the largest "minority" as if there is any one minority. School papers are sent out in three languages and Creole is the second and Spanish is now on the bottom.

Miami... love it. Always did, always will.

So, my most famous Miamian and close friend is Dr. Paul George the historian... a man who was educated in a Jesuit school and whose voice takes a lilting beat up when he says "Jesuit" which he says often usually reminding his students that before the 1800s there wasn't much here except a small Jesuit mission at the mouth of the Miami River whose job was to of course educate the natives...

" Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his men made the first recorded landing in this area when they visited the Tequesta settlement in 1566 while looking for Avilés' missing son, who had been shipwrecked a year earlier.[8] Spanish soldiers, led by Father Francisco Villareal, built a Jesuit mission at the mouth of the Miami River a year later, but it was short-lived. By 1570, the Jesuits decided to look for more willing subjects outside of Florida. "

Miami history is rife with stories of Jesuit educational missions and many of the Cubans who came here in the 1960s had studied at the Belen school in Havana. As a matter of fact... Fidel Castro was schooled there as well before he moved on to making himself his own diety and turned against the Church. Over the last several years he has modified his views... years back he outlawed people from celebrating Christmas because it interfered with the harvesting of crops and allowed people to celebrate it in the middle of summer...quietly, if they really wanted.

The Belen School in Havana is famous and it's prestige is considerable, legendary in Miami circles.

File:Belen School 1854-1925.jpg

Belen School 1854-1925

This is how the school looked when Castro got there...

File:Belen School 1950s - Havana.jpg

An aerial photograph of Colegio de Belén, Havana, Cuba.

We will get back to this later.............

With regard to the History of Miami... the Jesuits are intricately linked to early Miami History.

"The Gesu Church is significant for its important role in the religious history of Miami and as a reflection of the City's growth and development. In addition, the buildings are excellent examples of religious architecture and noteworthy for the excellence of its design, craftsmanship, and detailing.
Gesu is Miami's oldest Catholic parish and has served the religious and humanitarian needs of the community for over a century. The growth of the parish closely parallels the development of the City of Miami.
Miami's first Catholic service was conducted in 1872 when Father Dufau, who had been sent to South Florida by Bishop John Marcellus Peter Augustine Verot, P.S.S. of St. Augustine, celebrated Mass and confirmed the pioneer family of William J. Wagner. Wagner constructed a small wooden church on his homestead in 1875, and this became Miami's first house of worship.
The Holy Name Parish (now Gesu) was organized in 1896 and the pastor was Father Ambrose Fontan, S.J. A new church was constructed in 1897 on land donated by Henry Flagler. As Miami's population and the Holy Name congregation expanded, the need for a larger church became evident. A cornerstone was subsequently laid on December 10, 1920, on the site of the earlier church, and the new building was dedicated in 1925. The Gesu Parish School opened in 1905 with six grades and 60 students. The original school name was The Academy of the Sisters of St. Joseph St. Catherine's Convent. The school was also known as St. Catherine's Convent School and St. Catherine's Academy. There were four graduates in the first high school graduating class of 1913. The Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, Florida, were the teaching staff at the school.
A new five story school was built in 1926 and the name changed to Gesu Parish School. It was located at 130 Northeast 2nd Street. The last Gesu High School graduation was in 1953. There were 40 graduates in that class. The last eighth grade graduation was in 1982 when the school was closed. The school was demolished in 1984.
In 1961, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was established in the United States. The fourth floor of the Gesu School became the first site of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. The faculty, like many other priests and religious, had been expelled from Cuba by the government of Fidel Castro, an alumnus of the school. In October 1962, Belen Jesuit moved to 824 Southwest 7th Avenue; and, in 1981, to 500 S.W. 127th Avenue." (history)

NOTE: This sentence says more about Miami Demographics and the movement of people than any other sentence I can think of... 

" Belen Jesuit moved to 824 Southwest 7th Avenue; and, in 1981, to 500 S.W. 127th Avenue"

Moving South back towards Cuba... Father Benito Vines, one of the fathers of meteorology or more specifically Tropical Meteorology was a Jesuit Priest who studied hurricanes in his spare time. Of course his immediate concerns were to learn about the, warn his people and fellow priests... but he became one of the foremost experts on Hurricanes in the Tropics that there ever was... maybe until Bill Gray took up his studies in Colorado and taught a new generation of tropical meteorologists.

I've posted this link before, it's worth posting again.
The story of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane and the US Weather Bureau's refusal to take heed to the warnings from Cuba in the Spanish-American War Era are legendary.

"Eyewitnesses who observed storms throughout the West Indies telegraphed each other with personal observations. Father Benito Vines, a Spanish Jesuit priest who was meteorological director of the Royal College of Belen in Havana, had organized the tracking system. He was famous for his ability to interpret eyewitness data. His hurricane predictions saved many lives. People called him "Father Hurricane."
When Father Benito died in the summer of 1893, he left behind a staff of well-trained hurricane-predicting pioneers. Father Lorenzo Gangoite became head of the Belen Observatory. Although the Cubans had much to offer the new U.S. Weather Bureau (which was less than 10 years old in 1900), people in the Bureau disagreed. They refused to accept that Cubans could accurately predict hurricanes - let alone do it better than the Bureau could.
As a monster storm made its way toward Galveston, at the height of the 1900 hurricane season, U.S. weather predictors did not rely on data provided by anyone other than themselves.  Some historians believe such arrogance was a contributing factor to the magnitude of the Galveston disaster."

It is written about in the book Isaac's Storm as well.
NOTE: The 1900 "Galveston" Hurricane went the length of Cuba and the Cubans definitely has salient information that may have saved lives had it been heeded. Few storms traveled as much of the Cuban Coastline as that storm...before it traveled on across the open warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston. As a weaker storm coming off of Cuba, it spared Key West devastation but delivered it instead to Galveston.

Another closer up view:

File:Galveston hurricane track, Sept 1-10, 1900.jpg

People always forget the BEFORE part of the Storm ... the way they forget the Hurricane Sandy slammed into Cuba doing damage that was not expected, showing early on the strength of potential for misery of this now infamous storm.


Some salient parts from the above link that you really MUST read:

"A year later, on September 14, 1876, Father Vines predicted the future path of another violent hurricane. The captain of the sailing vessel Liberty ignored the warning and his ship was wrecked when he sailed directly into the path of the storm.
The following September the little priest wired the Barbados of an approaching hurricane still out in the Atlantic Ocean. He then contacted Puerto Rico and told them not to fear as the storm would pass well south of the island; at the same time, however, he warned Santiago de Cuba ". . . it will reach you on the 24th, be on your guard." Everything happened just as the Reverend Vines predicted.
Father Vines' accurate predictions won him praise and offers of help. By 1877 he was able to start a small hurricane reporting network throughout Cuba-including a "pony express" between the most isolated villages-and on a few other Caribbean islands. Steamship companies offered him free passage for his investigations and ordered their ship captains to pull into the nearest port and cable the observatory whenever hurricane-like weather threatened. Railroad companies also offered him free transport, and telegraphic and cable services were put at his disposal.
His Greatest Work
The same year (1877), after six years of study, Father Vihes finished his greatest work: Apuntes Relativos a los Huracanes de las Antilles, which was soon published as Practical Hints in Regard to West Indian Hurricanes by the U.S. Army Signal Corps' national weather service (the Weather Bureau wasn't established until 1890). It quickly sold out three large printings.
Father Vines was the first to suggest that the clouds well in advance of a hurricane could be used to locate the storms center, and also the first to forecast hurricane movement on the basis of cloud movement.
The Pilot Charts of the U.S. Hydrographic Office printed and reprinted the "laws" of Father Vines. The May issue of the 1889 Pilot Chart reads: "These important laws, established by the study and long experience of Father Vines, should be thoroughly understood by every navigator and utilized by shaping his course so as to avoid a hurricane."
In 1886, in reply to a query from the Havana Chamber of Commerce, Father Vines wrote: "For my part I am desirous only of serving all so far as service is rendered possible by my poor health and the limited means at my disposal; nor do I wish other recompense, after that which I hope from God, than to be of use to my brethren and to do my little share for the advancement of science and the good of humanity."

Note again the good of humanity was his concern, not acclaim though they awarded him acclaim anyway.

Remind you of anyone?

Pope Francis has degrees in chemistry, philosophy and theology with a love of literature and psychology. Jesuits often teach vs lead in the political sense and he is the first Jesuit Pope adding to the list of firsts being the first South American Pope. His parents, like many Argentinians, are from Italy.

Yes, I'm very happy that he was chosen. I thought he would be a long shot, but hoped he would become the Pope. It's time for us to open up the world around us and be more global in our orientation.  It's not all about Europe...  

And, as many have suggested the birds were hoping he would become the Pope St. Francis was known to talk to birds and believed they talked to him. 

Who knows what the real story is... I suppose ...only the Seagull knows for sure.

Yesterday I watched the sun go down as the sky around the chimney got darker and darker until the buildings of the Vatican glowed in the dark and a while after the Seagull flew away... the white smoke poured out of the chimney and the history of the Church was re-written, a new page... a new beginning with a man who became the Pope and asked us to pray for him. And, I do .. 

He has a message to teach of love, humility, giving to help the poor and being himself. Something we can all learn a bit on...   He will give the Vatican's version of the Secret Service a run for their money as he already ditched them this morning and went to the church he said he would go to yesterday without pomp or fan fare... to pray. 

We could all use in our own way in our own religions and in our own heart of hearts to connect more to our creator and nature around us be in the wind or the stars or the birds soaring overhead.

Besos Bobbi

Ps........I really can't wait to visit Cuba one day, after the Castros have gone the way of Chavez and it's the top of my places to go after Key West which is always on my list of places to go.

Anyone wanting to see more pictures of Cuba B.C. as many call it... Before Castro can enjoy the link below. (charity to rebuild in Cuba from Sandy)


At 1:30 PM, Blogger Eduard Boada said...

Hello, I share with you this links about father Viñes, one in actalan and another in spanish language.

Thanks, best wishes from Catalonia


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