January 10, 2017 presented us with an interesting anniversary – William Frederick Cody died on that date in Denver, Colorado one hundred years ago. Oh, by the way William Frederick Cody was better known as Buffalo Bill.
During his active life, Buffalo Bill had been the Chief of Scouts of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, served as a guide for both the army and the Pacific Railroad and was legendary for his buffalo hunting in the prairies of the American West. It is easy to understand how he eventually came to be known as Buffalo Bill. More people probably know him for his Wild West Show which traveled all over the world.
Today, we can visit both his tomb and a museum named after him and said to be one of the most viewed museums in the United States. When we say he traveled the world, he ventured far from his country’s shores to Europe on many occasions. Buffalo and his group would travel by train to reach their destinations and set up his shows in huge, open places where he could reenact famous battles like the Battle of Little Big Horn. The Wild West Show camped in some open fields in Rome in March 3, 1890 situated in close proximity to the Vatican. Wild Bill was not a Catholic but did send a request to Pope Leo XIII for an audience which was rejected as his group was just too large Later, however, accommodations were made and Buffalo Bill and some of his companions were permitted to be there from the Pope’s entrance into the Sistine Chapel. To this day, you can see some of the memorabilia in the Denver Museum given to Buffalo Bill by the Pope.
Many years later, on January 9, 19l7, Buffalo Bill was near death and even though he had been a Mason all his life, he asked to be baptized a Catholic. His request was honored and he died the very next day.
Now that leads one to wonder if his brief meeting with Pope Leo XIII was a turning point for Buffalo Bill spiritually or did God, as usual, work in mysterious ways.