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.