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Christopher Columbus on his third voyage on the 1498. Marked the first sighting of the island by Europeans. He arrived with his fleet of three small ships (the 100-ton Santa María, Pinta and Nina) on 31 July 1498.

Spanish missions were established as part of the Spanish colonization here as in its other new New World conquests. In 1687 the Catalan Capuchin friars were given responsibility for the conversion of the indigenous population of Trinidad and the Guianas. In 1713 the missions were handed over to the secular clergy. Due to shortages of missionaries, although the missions were established they often went without Christian instruction for long periods of time.

Between 1687 and 1700 several missions were founded in Trinidad, but only four survived as Amerindian villages throughout the 18th century – La Anuncíata de Nazaret de Savana Grande

(modern Princes Town), Purísima Concepción de María Santísima de Guayri (modern San Fernando), Santa Ana de Savaneta (modern Savonetta), Nuestra Señora de Montserrate

(probably modern Mayo). The mission of Santa Rosa de Arima was established in 1789 when Amerindians from the former encomiendas of Tacarigua and Arauca (Arouca) were relocated further east

(They settled in Santa Rosa close to the town of Arima).

In 1687 the Catalonian Capuchin friars were given responsibility for the conversion of the indigenous population of Trinidad and the Guianas.

In 1713 the missions were handed over to the secular clergy.

The Arena Massacre  took place on 1 December 1699 in Trinidad. It resulted in the death of several hundred Amerindians, Roman Catholic priests connected with the mission of San Francisco de los Arenales, the Spanish Governor José de León y Echales and all but one member of his party.


Amerindians tied to the Church's encomienda at the mission at Arena revolted, killing the priests and desecrating the church. They then ambushed the governor and his party, who were on their way to visit the church. Among those killed in the governor's party was Fr.Juan Mazien de Sotomayor, O.P., missionary priest to the Nepuyo villages of Cuara, Tacarigua and Arouca.

The rebels buried the bodies of the monks, threw the governor's body into the river and headed for the coast. They were pursued by the Spaniards who overtook them at Comcal and drove them to Galera Point. Many dove into the sea in preference to being captured. Eighty four rebels were captured and sixty one of them were shot. The twenty-two identify as ringleaders were hanged on 14 January 1700 at San José de Oruña, the capital of the colony, and their dismembered bodies displayed.

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