10 January 2008

Mission Nombre de Dios

Ok, I'm back, and I'm gonna get this thing caught up, I swear! Anyway, this is the Mission Nombre De Dios, the site where the Spanish landed under Pedro Menedez de Aviles to found St Augustine on September 8, 1565. This also became the site of the first mass held in America under Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales. They named the site Nombre de Dios, or Name of God.

Diorama of the first mass.
This is the actual coffin that Pedro Menendez de Aviles was buried in, in Aviles, Spain in 1574. The soffin has returned to St Augustine, but his remains are still in Spain. The writing on the side translates to "Here lies buried the noble cavalier, Pedro Menede de Aviles, a native of this town, Governor of the province of Florida, knight of the Order of Santiago, and Captain General of the Catholic Armada, assembled by King Phillip, mighty Lord, in the year 1574, in the town of Santander, where, in the same place, on the 17th of September, and in the same year, he dies in the fifty fifth year of his life." (There is a sign next to it, no, I don't read Spanish.)
This is the shrine to Our Lady of La Leche, originally built in 1615, the current one dates to 1918. For those interested in a little Catholic history, the name translates to Our Lady of the Milk and Happ Delivery. The following excerpt comes from the Mission's website: "Our Lady of La Leche is the first shrine dedicated to Our Blessed Mother in the United States. The history of the devotion to the Mother of Jesus as Our Lady of La Leche may have roots in a 4th Century grotto in Bethlehem. To this day the Franciscan community maintains a shrine there called the Milk Grotto. Its centerpiece is the Blessed Virgin nursing the infant Jesus. Many believe that the crusaders brought the devotion to Mary as a nursing mother to Spain in the Middle Ages.
During the reign of Phillip III in Spain, word spread of a nobleman’s wife and baby, expected to die during the birth of the child, who were both spared as a result of the intercession of Nuestra Senora de la Leche y buen parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery). The statue, in possession of the nobleman, soon found a place in the hearts of many throughout Spain.
By the early 1600’s the devotion, under the title of Nuestra Senora de la Leche y buen parto, had a special place in the lives of the Spanish settlers and the converted Native People in St. Augustine."

This view looks across the pond towards the prince of Peace Church, built in 1965 to commemorate the Mission's 400th anniversary. It is a votive church dedicated to prayers that God will deliver the world from nuclear war.
This is the Great Cross. At 208 feet, it was also built for the 400th anniversary of the Mission, and represents the growth from the small wooden cross that Pedro Menendez stuck in the sand when he landed. "The Cross weighs 70 tons and consists of 200 stainless steel panels in various sizes. The loftiest sections of the Cross contain 1.6 ft. x 10 ft. panels 3/16 in. thick, while 4 ft. x 10 ft. and 5/16 in. thick panels cover the foundational sector. To prevent potential damage from hurricane force winds, workers solidified the lower 65 feet of the Great Cross by tightly filling the inside with concrete. At night, lights mounted from the ground provide illumination of the Great Cross." (Mission website)

Looking across the water to the Fountain of Youth Park (last post).
This Rustic Altar was built to commemorate the first mass held here. Note the Great Cross in the background. The sign next to the altar says: "This rustic altar calls to mind the Mass of Thanksgiving offered here by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Diocesan priest and fleet chaplain, on September 8, 1565, the day the city of St. Augustine was founded. Gathered about the altar were Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Adelantado of Florida and Captain General of the Indies Fleet, with his colonists, soldiers and the Timucuans who lived on these shores before the Lord Christ was born.
John Gilmary Shea, historian and Christian humanist, reflects on that scene: "Mass was said to hallow the land and draw down the blessing of heaven before the first step was taken to rear a human habitation. The altar was older than the hearth."
Following Mass, Pedro Menendez hosted a feast for his companions and their new native friends. Thus began the first permanent Christian settlement in what is now the United States of America."

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