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Sacred Sights in the Oldest City: St. Augustine!

by: John Stavely

St Augustine, Florida is home to many historic churches and sacred sites.
The architecture and history is fascinating and many of the churches and sites are open and available to visitors. Here is a glimpse at some of the interesting sacred places to discover.

The Mission of Nombre de Dios and Le Leche Shrine

President John F. Kennedy said that this site was the most sacred acre for Catholics in the United States. Here is where the first Spanish Catholic Mass was conducted in 1565 by Father Lopez, whose statue still marks the spot. The Mission is also marked by the 208 foot cross that rises above the skyline of St Augustine just north of Downtown. The grounds include an historic cemetery and the Le Leche Shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary and motherhood around 1615. Walking the grounds is a relaxing and renewing experience with a spectacular view of the Bay. Inside the gift shop for viewing is the preserved coffin cover of St Augustine’s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

The Father Miguel O’Riley House

In 1868, the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived from France to help educate the freed slaves of St. Augustine. Today, they have restored the Father Riley house and opened it as a museum. The famous “Hurricane Lady” statue can be seen here.

The Cathedral Basilica

On the north side of the town Plaza, the Cathedral Basilica was dedicated in 1797 but represents the oldest Catholic congregation in the United States with records dating back to the 16th Century. It is a U.S. Historical Landmark.

The Trinity Parish Episcopal Church

Across the Plaza is the oldest protestant church in Florida, Trinity Episcopal Church. It features beautiful stained glass windows including one window by Louis Tiffany.

Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church
Henry Flagler built this Church on the corner of Sevilla and Valencia Streets as a memorial to the loss of his Daughter and Granddaughter in 1889. A family mausoleum houses Henry Flagler, his first wife Mary Harkness and his Daughter, Jenny Louise. The history of this church with its huge pipe organ, ornate carvings of wood and stone and recently restored stained glass windows make it one of the most visited in the city.

There are many more sacred sites to discover in St Augustine including the St Paul A.M.E and First Baptist churches in Lincolnville, the Grace United Methodist Church, the Ancient City Baptist Church and the Sons of Israel Synagogue to name a few. Visiting these historic sites is educational and inspirational.

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