Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 02 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard
home iconNews
line break icon

This Florida chapel dedicated to a nursing Virgin Mary is now a National Shrine

Our Lady of La Leche Chapel

Steven Martin | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Zelda Caldwell - published on 10/16/19 - updated on 10/16/19

The Shrine of Our lady of La Leche is America's oldest Marian shrine.

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, Florida, has been elevated as a National Shrine by the U.S. bishops’ conference, the Catholic News Agency reported.

Founded in 1587, the shrine is at the heart of the oldest European settlement on what in the United States, and is America’s oldest Marian shrine.

It is dedicated to the devotion to Mary as a mother nursing the infant Jesus — a devotion popularized by the Spanish who arrived at the mission site (called La Florida) on September 8, 1565, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sent by the Spanish King Philip II, the settlers had a two-fold mission — to secure the land for Spain and to convert the native people to Christianity.

The mission was founded 22 years later by Franciscans, who dedicated a chapel to Our Lady of La Leche in 1609. The shrine is a popular pilgrimage site for pregnant mothers and those hoping to become pregnant, and many attest to wonders worked as a result of Mary’s intercession.

Highlights of the shrine include the Our Lady of La Leche statue, the Great Cross, a 208-foot stainless steel cross, and a rustic altar in the mission’s “Sacred Acre,” an outdoor altar in approximately the same place as the outdoor altar at the shrine’s founding Mass.


Our Lady of La Leche Chapel

Read more:
This summer, try visiting the oldest Marian shrine in the United States

Prior to the elevation of the shrine, on August 22 of this year Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine reinstated the Confraternity of Our Lady of La Leche, which had become inactive over the years.

As Jim Graves reported on the reinstatement in Aleteia the devotion to a nursing Mary was very appealing to the Mocama Indians who inhabited northern Florida in the 16th century.


OUR LADY OF LA LECHE

Read more:
Bishop reinstating Confraternity of Our Lady of La Leche at oldest shrine of USA

Joanna Stark, executive director of the shrine, told Graves that Mission Nombre de Dios, which founded the shrine, led to the founding of another 200 missions which helped spread the devotion to other native tribes.

“Wherever the Faith was brought, the Our Lady of La Leche devotion was what helped tie the many mission communities together,” said Stark.

Stark told Graves that Bishop Estévez believed that the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche is just as attractive today.

“This is something the bishop has wanted to do since he first came to St. Augustine in 2011,” said Stark. “He believes the Confraternity will help support the shrine’s mission of evangelization.”

Tags:
Devotions and FeastsVirgin Mary
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
SIMONE BILES
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
HIDILYN DIAZ
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
4
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
5
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
6
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
7
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.