While it is certainly true that Columbus was better at getting to the New World than he was at governing it, his opening of Atlantic trade would change the world forever, arguably save the West and spread the Gospel of Jesus farther and wider than anybody in what then was known as Christendom could have imagined.

If this sounds hyperbolic, consider that just a few decades ­before Columbus’ first voyage, Constantinople had fallen to Muslim invaders — and that it was only in that same year of 1492 that Christians reclaimed the Iberian Peninsula in the Reconquista.

Christendom had been in a battle for survival through five centuries of invasions and crusades. The riches of the New World, tapped first by Columbus, ensured the safety of Western Europe and laid the groundwork for its global dominance.

The upshot of Columbus’ grit and courage is nothing short of the world we inhabit today, one in which Judeo-Christian values through centuries of churn and violence have led to the freest, most equitable and most prosperous nations in our planet’s history. There are those who say that Columbus didn’t live with our modern values. That is true, but it is also true that without Columbus, our modern values might very well not exist.