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Saint Augustine, Florida: Our Lady of La Leche Shrine and Mission of Nombre de Dios

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On the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios is the first shrine in the United States dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. Devotion to Our Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of the Milk) goes back to a 4th Century Grotto in Jerusalem. The story of the grotto in Bethlehem can be found here.

The devotion spread in the middle ages, particularly after the Crusaders came back from the Holy Land. The wife of a nobleman, expected to die during the birth of her child, was reportedly spared due to the intercession of Our Lady of La Leche. More particularly she was given the title "Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery".  

By the time of the founding of Saint Augustine in 1565 the devotion was widespread among the Spanish settlers and the native converts.

In addition to the chapel (shown here) there are also shrines dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Americas) and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Also notable are a cross over 200 feet tall, and an outdoor altar commemorating the first Mass celebrated here on September 8, 1565 by the first Spanish settlers to arrive here.  This Mass of Thanksgiving is widely believed to be the First Thanksgiving on the continent, over 50 years before the Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth Rock, Mass. in 1621.

There is a a gift shop, walking trails, and shrines that make this a beautiful place to visit for spiritual renewal.

The Shrine was designated by the Bishop of Saint Augustine as an official pilgrimage site during the Year of Faith (October 2012 – November 2013).  

According to the Bishop "The faithful who, making a pilgrimage in faith and participating here in the sacred liturgy or, at least pause for an apt time for recollection and pious meditations, concluding the recitation of the Our Father, the Apostles or Nicene Creed, and invoking the intercession of the Blessed Mother–Our Lady of La Leche–as well as our diocesan patron Saint Augustine of Hippo, be granted a Plenary Indulgence."

"The usual conditions of being free from attachment to sin, sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI are also to be accomplished to gain the indulgence. The indulgence is obtained for the individual or it may be applied to the faithful departed. signed here".

The Most Reverend Felipe J Estevez, DD, STD, Bishop of Saint Augustine.

Click here for the official website of the Mission Nombre de Dios and Our Lady of La Leche Shrine in Saint Augustine.


Here is an interesting story of an "accidental pilgrimage" to the shrine by Catholic author Regina Gulick.
Our Lady of La Leche Shrine Saint Augustine
Where the first Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at Our Lady of La Leche Shrine Saint Augustine