Spain’s national motto in the early 1400’s was “Ne plus ultra.” This is the Latin phrase meaning, “No More Beyond.” The words were written on the edges of their maps. The concept was buttressed by Greek mythology. Evidently Hercules was believed to have constructed to pillars near the Straits of Gibraltar which marked the edge of the world. These pillars were marked with a sign, “Ne plus ultra” to warn sailors to go no farther lest they sail off the edge of the world to be lost forever. Spain who at the time possessed the territory on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar stamped their coins with the two Pillars of Hercules, which is what the land on either side of the Strait were called. Believing the Greek myth closed the door to the possibility of more.
This all changed on August 3, 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail for Asia anticipating riches of gold, pearls and spice. When word arrived in Spain that he had instead discovered a new world, Spain dropped the “ne” from it’s motto and minted new coins saying “Plus Ultra.” There was “More Beyond.” A new age of possibility had been awakened by one man’s imagination and faith in the impossible.
Between 1493 and 1820, Spain sent some 15,585 missionaries to the Americas. There was “More Beyond” indeed.
As we face the unknown we need to remember that our limits don’t come from God. They come from within us.
By Dr. Gayle Woods