Seven Sorrows Rosary, a CD by ImmaculÚe. Pray the Rosary this special way with an incredible and holy Rwandan woman who survived the massacres in that country and became close to the Church-approved apparitions and seers at Kibeho -- where the Blessed Mother urged recitation in this specific way to protect and help ourselves during the current difficult times and those that the Blessed Mother says are ahead! click here 



Unbeknown to many, the Bishop of America's oldest city, Saint Augustine, Florida, has instituted a formal feast day for "Our Lady of La Leche," a devotion to Mary as new mother nursing her Infant.

That day, declared by Bishop Felipe J. EstÚvez, is Saturday, October 11. He will celebrate Mass at the local cathedral basilica. The Bishop has also instituted a Jubilee Year in commemoration of the Blessed Mother and to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the founding of America's city at the site of the current shrine.

The  devotion dates back to the Holy Land, where there is the "Cave of the Milk," and also to a similar reverence for the nursing mother in Spain.

The site here in the U.S. was instituted on September 8, 1565 -- decades before pilgrims set foot at Plymouth Rock or settlers established Williamsburg. It dates back to Michelangelo (established a year after his death).

A little chapel with a statue of the Madonna nursing Jesus is on a gorgeous, treed plot of land overlooking an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as "America's most sacred acre," through the grounds now include surrounding land, a small lake, pathways, and a large church.

At this site, the first documented parish Mass in America  took place (with four celebrants, the main one Father Francisco Lˇpez de Mendoza Grajales) as a prominent explorer who they accompanied,  Admiral Pedro MenÚndez de AvilÚs, from Cadiz, Spain, and his fleet of ships made landing, kissing a Cross. The Mass was one of thanksgiving -- opening a claim that this was America's first thanksgiving day (it too involved a feast and Indians).

"The historical record tells us that the action of kissing the Cross and the celebration of the first Mass in what is now the City of Saint Augustine, Florida, permanently planted the Christian Faith in the land that is now the United States of America," said Bishop EstÚvez in making the declaration.

The spot of the Mass is marked today with a 208-foot Cross that's believed to be the world's tallest. Recent archaeological digs by the University of Florida have unearthed the original pole-and-palm-roof chapel. It is the first parish in the U.S. -- so old it was originally under the diocese of Havana, Cuba (and later Savannah, Georgia).

The shrine is often visited by women who seek to have a child, are having problems with pregnancy, or simply pray for a healthy birth and family. Many claim miraculous interventions. The full name for Mary here is "Nuestra Se˝ora de la Leche y Buen Parto ľ Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Deliver." The site was originally called "Nombre de Dios" -- the Name of God, itself a sign perhaps of our time, as devotions to God the Father are increasingly under discussion, after centuries of neglect: unearthed as now this holy spot unearths the founding, at a climactic time, of American Catholicism.

[Novena prayers to Our Lady of La Leche]

[For information on the Mass click here and for the shrine here]

[resources: Spirit Daily's new bookstore]

[See also: Michael H. Brown Retreat: New Orleans and Midwest retreat: Kansas City]

[Anyone with accounts of answered prayers from this devotion please let us know]

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