Conscious of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's impassioned plea to promulgate
the oneness of mankind to a spiritually impoverished humanity, a handful of
itinerant Bahá'í' teachers set forth four decades ago, traversed the land
bridge connecting the two continents of the Western Hemisphere and carried the
healing Message of Bahá'u'lláh to the Spanish-American Republics. Their
dedicated efforts were rewarded when, in 1938, the first Local Spiritual
Assembly in Latin America was formed in Mexico City. This initial triumph at
the inception of the first of the teaching plans formulated by Shoghi Effendi
spearheaded other victories leading to the formation of two, then of four
Regional Spiritual Assemblies and ultimately to the establishment of National
Spiritual Assemblies in each of the republics of Latin America and in the
islands of the Caribbean.
- The Universal House of Justice (From a message dated
February 1977; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)
To enable the delegates to prepare themselves spiritually for
their great responsibility, arrangements had been made by the Hands of the
Cause, with the cooperation of the International Baha'i Council, for all to
visit the several Holy Places. This was the greatest mass pilgrimage ever to
have been made to the World Centre of our Faith.
On the morning of the 21st of April, 1963, delegates proceeded
to the Master's House at No.7, Persian Street, to discharge their sacred
responsibility in accordance with the text of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
They came from all parts of the globe, representing many
races, peoples, tongues, and cultural backgrounds.
Merely to register the names of those who, from 1899 to
1902, were drawn by her "personal fascination... so fragile, so luminous...
and the most delicate, perfect beauty, flower-like and star-like;" and
who, through this spell, attained to its origin in her rapturous love for
'Abdu'l-Baha - is to compel astonishment. The first to believe was Edith MacKaye,
and by the New Year of 1900, Charles Mason Remey and Herbert Hopper were next
to follow. Then came Marie Squires (Hopper), Helen Ellis Cole, Laura Barney,
Mme. Jackson, Agnes Alexander, Thomas Breakwell, Edith Sanderson, and Hippolyte
Dreyfus, the first French Baha'i. Emogene Hoagg and Mrs. Conner had come to
Paris in 1900 from America, Sigurd Russell at fifteen returned from 'Akka a
believer, and in 1901, the group was further reinforced by Juliet Thompson,
Lillian James, and "the frequent passing through Paris of pilgrims from
America going to the Master... and then again returning from the Holy
Land." These are but a few, for "in 1901 and 1902 the Paris group of Baha'is
numbered between twenty-five and thirty people with May Bolles as spiritual guide