Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sacred Acre

While neither Alex nor I am Catholic,we read a little about this historic shrine in our favorite place, St Augustine, and thought it would make for a great afternoon of picture taking.

The Nombre de Dios Mission is said to be one of the oldest churches in the new world. And, recently discovered artifacts only added to it's allure. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

You walk across the bridge above and your eyes are drawn like magnets to a cross that fills the sky, and a statue of a monk who seems to be pointing the way. It is really powerful stuff!

Alex was surprised to encounter this little shrine with what appeared to be a Russian Orthodox cross. We both tried to get a close up of the painting housed inside but the afternoon sun would not cooperate and glare prevented our taking anything meaningful.

I was fascinated by this map that detailed the Florida Missions of the first Spanish period from 1565 - 1763. It was really interesting to view the different locations throughout the State and their names from that time.

This grave site holds the remains of six nuns from the Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph who came to St Augustine after the Civil War to educate freed slaves. They hold a special place near the famous chapel at the shrine.

the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche is the fourth building on this site. Erected first in 1615, the others were destroyed by war, pirates, and storms. Construction for the present building was begun in 1915. It possesses an almost mystical quality as the stature of the Madonna seems to give off it's own gentle light. It sits in the middle of the grounds and you slowly work your way toward it.

And finally, the rustic altar which celebrated the first Catholic mass at the mission in 1565. The Diocesan priest, the fleet Chaplin, and the newly discovered Timucuan Indians who had long inhabited the area gathered around it in prayer. Looking at it now it seems so simple and yet was the beginning of all the things that were to follow.

There is more to see like the Coquina rock stations of the cross and various other religious artifacts, I simply could not include them all. So if you are ever in St Augustine and want to spend a soothing afternoon, it is well worth a visit.

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