Thursday, July 29, 2010
Mission Nombre de Dios - St. Augustine, Florida
Now a beautiful park setting with a magnificent steel cross facing Matanzas Bay, the restored Chapel of Nuestra Senora de La Leche, historic cemetery and interpretive signs detailing the history of the site, the mission commemorates the planting of the first permanent Christian church in the United States.
On September 8, 1565, a Spanish flotilla commanded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived in Florida's Matanzas Bay. He had been ordered to drive away the French who had built Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River and to plant a permanent settlement that would firmly establish Spain's title to the region. Spotting the Timucuan town of Seloy, Menendez came ashore and quickly established friendly relations with the leaders and inhabitants of the town.
Over the years that followed, Mission Nombre de Dios and its Chapel of Nuestra Senora de La Leche served as the mother of a chain of missions that stretched across Florida and up the East Coast as far as Virginia. The stone chapel was bombarded and destroyed by the Spanish themselves to prevent its use by English attackers during the 1700s, but was restored in 1875.
Today the site is open to the public daily and is a major landmark in the history of Christianity in the United States. Please click here to learn more about Mission Nombre de Dios: www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nombrededios.