Mission of Nombre de Dios St Augustine

A visit to any historic church in any city can be a divine experience that leaves you feeling peaceful and renewed, but a visit to a St. Augustine church can bring you to the next level, especially when that church is built on one of our countries most sacred spots, as is the case with the Mission of Nombre de Dios.

Built on the very spot Pedro Menendez de Aviles knelt and kissed a cross given to him by Father Francisco Lopez in 1565, which was also the spot where the first mass was held in this new country, the original mission, built in the 1600s, was destroyed only to be rebuilt in 1875, and then it fell again. This historic site was reconstructed in 1915 and is the place you can see today.

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche and Happy Delivery

A statue of Mary nursing her only child has also been reconstructed, and millions of mothers-to-be over the centuries have traveled to this spot, the statue of Our Lady of La Leche, to seek comfort and pray for their unborn children. 

The shrine has been the subject of many restorations and reconstructions after countless hurricanes and enemy attacks. One of the most prominent fixtures of the mission is the 208-foot metal cross that was erected in the 1960s. 

Today, it is still a place of peace and meditation, so be mindful when you visit; the mission is not just a tourist attraction, it is a place of worship as well. As you explore the grounds, take the opportunity to visit the rustic altar, the Statue of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and also take the time to peruse the grave sites of those who walked these grounds centuries ago.

st augustine door
Photo from Shutterstock

The First Thanksgiving

The pilgrims take the credit for the first Thanksgiving, but were you aware that the actual first Thanksgiving was held 56 years prior, right here at the Mission? Following the first mass on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menendez held a feast to give thanks and invited the locals, the Timucuan people, to join in.

While the Spanish would have most likely served a pork and bean stew, it is suspected the Timucuans would have provided the turkey (amongst other animals and indigenous vegetables) at this first dinner of thanks, starting a tradition that continues today, nearly five centuries later.

The Museum

The museum inside the Mission of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine contains many religious artifacts, including the original casket of Pedro Menendez de Aviles and other artifacts uncovered in excavations conducted at the mission.

You can best enjoy the mission by walking the grounds and exploring the shrine and the museum. After a day spent immersed in history, the grounds offer the best place imaginable for a picnic. There is even a gift shop so you can take a piece of that history home with you.

Established as the first of the Spanish missions in Florida, the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not only an essential place to visit for enthusiasts of history and religion; others will find unparalleled value in the beauty of the grounds and the city that surrounds.

The Ocean Gallery

Immerse yourself in the history of the city as never before. As it is one of the oldest sites in the city, it gives an amazing glimpse into the earliest history of this settlement.

Book your Ocean Gallery vacation rental today and explore the peaceful side of our historic city.