How did the Native American get this name?
While it is not known for sure how the Native American,Goyathlay, came
to be called "Geronimo" this theory is at least based on facts and
Goyathlay was indeed a fearsome individual with numerous deaths that
some would call murders to his 'credit.' He and his band ranged on both
sides of the Rio Grande leaving many dead Americans and Mexicans behind
them and some say they caused much more havoc on the Mexican side. One
unique methods of attack was to leap out from seemingly nowhere causing
great fear and confusion upon his intended victims. It was during one
such surprise attack of Mexicans that an American 'Gringo' along with
them heard some of the Mexicans exclaim "GERONIMO!" They were calling
Saint 'Geronimo' [St. Jerome] for protection as he was one of the
patron saints of Mexican and Spanish soldiers and they would regularly
shout his name when charging into battle. (Anglos are often heard to
GOD!" under similar circumstances.) That Gringo,
who was ignorant of Hispanic and Roman Catholic culture, thought they
were calling out the Indian's name and survived to tell 'that story'
far and wide.
In those days the average Mexican probably could not read Latin but
they were well aware that it was the language of 'The Church.'
Mass and Service was held in Latin and all of their padres
a Latin Bible, The Vulgate, that Saint Jerome ['Geronimo' to them]
translated from the original Hebrew and Greek. Because of this alone,
held St. 'Geronimo' or simply 'Geronimo' in very high esteem and
honored him by naming many creeks, hills, mesas and towns for him.