During this trying time for everyone, come along with us on a short little day trip. We are traveling less these days, and our plans have changed. The AT hike is on hold, and our weekend trips to parks have been shut down. To all who are full-timers, we sincerely hope that you are lucky like us and have some friends who will let you stay in their yard.
Diesel is cheap at the moment, so we just decided to take a Sunday drive to see the historic downtown St. Augustine in all its historic beauty with no crowds or cars. While driving around, we noticed that the gates to the mission were open. We had wanted to walk around this historic place anyway, so we jumped at the chance to do it with very few people.
The Nombre de Dios Mission, also known locally as Our Lady of La Leche, is the oldest mission here. If you’ve ever been to St. Augustine, or driven over the bridge from Vilano, you’ve seen a giant cross looming at the horizon. This marks the spot (general) claimed by Pedro Menendez for Spain and the church in 1565. The main building (the new mission) was closed and so was the gift shop, but the grounds were what we came to explore anyway.
There are several statues erected to Spanish/Catholic Saints, including Francisco Lopez, (whose monument is registered under historic places), and Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). We’d like to encourage you to click on the pictures individually so you can read the rich history of this place.
Throughout the grounds, there are large monuments dedicated to different people and there are tombstones dating back through the 1800’s, including Union soldiers from the Civil War. There are also some sisters of the original mission buried on the premises.
For those who are not familiar with the Spanish Catholics, they give special devotion to the Mother Mary. There is a beautiful Shrine to her in the middle of the property. It’s the 4th one erected. The first 3 were destroyed by war, fire, or hurricanes. The “newest” was built in 1918. It is open when the gates are, and anyone can go in a sit down or kneel at the front altar. There are also candles that can be lit by appointment. There is also a couple of very pretty fountains throughout.
Whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic, or anything in between, this is a nice place to just sit at one of the many benches and reflect on blessings or happy thoughts. It’s right next to the bay (Matanzas), as seen the the above pictures, making it a perfect setting for peaceful tranquility. It was a nice thing to experience during this tough time that we are all having.
If you’d like to visit, they are closed to the public right now, but they have an online store for tokens and rosaries; or you can buy a candle for them to light with a request for prayer. They will also be holing Easter Mass online. Of you’re not interested in the gift shop or sanctuary, go on by and just walk the grounds. We enjoy looking at the ancient tombstones and sitting by the bay.
We hope you and yours will have a Happy Easter and a great spring. We’ll all get back out there soon and begin exploring again. Thank you to all our readers for sticking with us.