Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 17 September |
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Archaeologists revive a Florida priest’s discovery, buried since the 1950s

OUR LADY LA LECHE MISSION NOMBRE DE DIOS

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre De Dios via Facebook | Fair Use

John Burger - published on 10/15/18

A mysterious building dating to the Spanish colonial era goes on display in St. Augustine.

For American Catholics, Florida is a lot more significant than the attention it gets. The very first Mass was celebrated there, in 1565, in a field in what is now the city of St. Augustine.

Today, the site is a place of pilgrimage: the Mission Nombre de Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.

But it’s also a place of mystery, one that University of Florida archaeologist Kathleen Deagan is working to unravel.

It turns out that a local priest-archaeologist, Fr. Charles Spellman, uncovered the remnants of what is thought to be the first stone building and shrine dedicated to Our Lady of La Leche back in the 1950s. It was a building believed to have been constructed in 1677. According to the St. Augustine Record, Fr. Spellman discovered artifacts and made a map of the site, but he never shared his discovery with the archaeological community.

“It got covered up and everyone forgot about it,” Deagan said.

Fr. Spellman’s report was buried in the church’s archive until 2009 when it was rediscovered. Deagan, in collaboration with Flagler College in St. Augustine, is continuing the priest’s work by attempting to making an actual dig.

“The goal is to completely expose it and document it in order to try to determine the function,” Deagan told the Record. “Was it a church, a chapel, a convent? We know a lot about the mission, but we don’t understand much about this building.”

Among other things, Deagan’s team might answer questions about how the mission and city of St. Augustine interacted with each other and how the Native people may have intermingled with Spanish settlers.

Meanwhile, the public will be allowed to view the archaeological site until November 1.

Tags:
Catholic history

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!

Top 10
1
CELEBRITIES
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
2
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
3
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
4
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
5
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
6
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.