Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 21 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Anselm of Canterbury
home iconTravel
line break icon

Visit the Oldest Marian Shrine in the United States: The Shrine of Our Lady of the Milk

Steven Martin CC

Daniel Esparza - published on 05/20/16

On the grounds of the Mission of the Name of God in Saint Augustine, Florida, is the site of a shrine of a most ancient devotion

Saint Augustine, in the northeast of Florida, proudly lays claim to be the oldest European settlement in US soil. It is indeed, without a doubt, the oldest continuously-occupied European-founded town in the United States.

It is not at all strange, then, that on the grounds of St. Augustine’s Mission of the Name of God (one of the first churches in what would become the United States) we also find the first North American shrine ever dedicated to Our Lady. But, curiously enough, the shrine is dedicated to an early Christian devotion that can be tracked back as far as the fourth century, in the Holy Land: devotion to Our Lady of the Milk.

A grotto located east of the Nativity Church, in Bethlehem, is known as “the Grotto of the Milk.” Tradition says that, during the flight to Egypt, the Holy Family stopped here to get some rest. While the Virgin Mary was nurturing the Baby Jesus, a drop of her milk fell to the floor. The rock on which it fell immediately turned white.

Nowadays, the “Grotto of the Milk” in Bethlehem is visited by both Christian and Muslim women who ask Our Lady’s intercession for their own children, so they can grow healthy and well nurtured. This devotion spread all throughout Europe, specially after the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land.

Spanish settlers who came to St. Augustine in the 1600s brought with them their devotion to Nuestra Senora de la Leche (Our Lady of the Milk). A miraculous statue of the Madonna and Child under this title had been set up in the Madrid cathedral by King Philip III. A replica of this statue was brought to St. Augustine and set up in a special shrine built by settlers and Native American converts on the grounds of the Mission.

Pilgrims may still visit this shrine today, and walk the grounds of the place where the Church was first firmly planted in what would later become the United States.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
HEART OF JESUS
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.