It is believed that the Mission Nombre de Dios of St Augustine, Florida - the oldest city in the continental United States - may be the first mission established in America. The Franciscan mission dates back to 1587 when it served nearby villages and was a center of chiefdom in the area. Today it is a well-recognized spiritual site and a large part of the history of St. Augustine (its church is also recognized as the oldest in the United States.)
A visit to the small, ivy-covered stone church is often a peaceful, spiritual refuge. A massive steel cross stands 208 feet tall beside wide walkways and manicured gardens. The shrine dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Le Leche’ dates back to the 1600s when it was built by Spanish settlers. There’s also a historic graveyard and Mission museum containing artifacts and documents found during the original excavation of the grounds. The entire site remains a pilgrimage site for many, and an important part of early U.S. history.
The Mission Nombre de Dios can be found north of Uptown St. Augustine on the west bank of Matanzas Bay. Parking and admission are free.