Mission Nombre de Dios and Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche – St. Augustine, FL
Origins go back to the founding of our city
Mission Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menéndez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. López would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin the work at America’s first mission. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present.
Our Lady of Le Leche
In the early 1600s, the Spanish settlers of St. Augustine established the first Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States. The original chapel and several reconstructions were damaged by storms and attacks. The chapel was rebuild in 1875 by Augustin Verot, first bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. It too fell to the ravages of a major hurricane.
The present chapel was reconstructed in 1915 and enshrines a replica of the original statue of Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto – Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery. Throughout its existence, the Shrine has remained a comforting place of prayer for mothers-to-be, for families, for special intentions and for those seeking to strengthen their faith.
As you walk through the historic grounds at the Mission, you will be retracing the steps of America’s first founding fathers more than 400 years ago. It was here that Spanish explorers founded our nation’s first permanent community and pioneer priests first planted the cross of Christianity. This is the site where western culture and Christian faith took root in our country.
We ask that, while enjoying the grounds, you kindly respect the fragile conditions of the gravestones as well as the quiet, prayerful atmosphere of the Shrine Chapel. A form is available in the Gift Shop for any comments or suggestions you may have. God bless you on your way.