Catholics at Jamestown?

Bill Kelso & co. found a reliquary on top of the coffin of one of the original colonists:

Four newly identified leaders buried in the chancel of Historic Jamestowne’s 1608 church may have included a spy or a secret practitioner of a traitorous religion…

A silver reliquary box atop the coffin of early Jamestown leader Gabriel Archer raises questions about who he really was and who he was really supporting.

More:

Archer’s grave raised the most questions. He was one of the ringleaders of a conspiracy that removed the first president of the Jamestown settlement only four months after arrival in 1607, Horn said. Archer was also instrumental in ridding the colony of Capt. John Smith.

“Several of the early leaders are thrown out of office or deposed, and Archer is involved in all of them. You might say he’s just a conspirator.  He wants to be the leader,” Horn said. “Maybe there’s a different reason that we hadn’t considered before this new evidence of his Catholic leanings.”

Beyond the carefully placed reliquary box, Archer’s burial was oriented in the priestly fashion.

“Was Archer the leader of a Catholic cell at Jamestown? Was he a Catholic priest and does that explain why his head is to the east?” Horn asked. “There’s not a hint of Catholic in the records. He would be disgraced or worse. You could not be an open Catholic in a position of authority” after King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church in 1536.

Archer’s parents, however, had been staunch Catholics, declared outlaws for not attending the Church of England.

Update: An interesting quote from Kelso in the Atlantic:

“We have been finding bits and pieces of rosaries and crucifixes and other things that obviously were Catholic,” Kelso said. “One interpretation is they were bought over here to give to the Indians, even just to trade as trinkets. But now I think about it in a whole different way.”

And here’s a video:

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