SAVE THE DATE!
Join us in St. Augustine Florida where the Catholic Faith came to the New World 50 years before the Pilgrims arrived. The first parish was started in St. Augustine and the first parish Mass.
VISIT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN AMERICA
Imagine it is 1565: Five ships sail into a small cove on the coastline of what was known to the Spanish as La Florida. Under the command of General Pedro Menéndez de Aviles, they come to the New World from Spain.
Sent by King Philip II, they arrive in hopes of establishing a colony, securing the land for Spain, and most importantly, to convert the native American Indians to Christianity.
On September 8, 1565, the feast day of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spanish on the ships, sailors, soldiers, tradesmen and priests, came ashore. Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, recorded the day’s events in his diary:
“On Saturday, the eighth, the General landed, with many banners spread, to the sounds of trumpets and the salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn “Te Deum Laudamus.” The General, followed by all who accompanied him, marched up to the cross, knelt and kissed it. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all that they saw done.”
Following Menendez’s veneration of the Cross, thus proclaiming this land in the name of God (Nomre de Dios,) Father Lopez celebrated Mass at a rustic altar made of wood. The sky served as the roof for what was the first parish Mass in what is now the United States.
It was on this sacred ground that the Spanish settlers would begin devotion to Our Lady of La Leche (Mary nursing the infant Jesus.) In the early 1600’s the Spanish settlers of St. Augustine established the first Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States.