The mission traces its origins to September 8, 1565, when Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed with a band of settlers to found St. Augustine. This location would be the starting point for the oldest continuously occupied, non-indigenous, city in North America. Avilés landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church by kneeling to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was soon after that the Spanish and the local Timucua speaking people celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, the first Mass in La Florida.
In the years of early La Florida, at first the Jesuits and later the Franciscans ministered to the resident Spanish colonists, and made some efforts to evangelize the local Mocama, a Timucua group, at the center of an important chiefdom in the 16th century. The Franciscans were particularly successful in the Mocama village known as Nombre de Dios, converting the chief and her daughter. A formal Franciscan Mission Nombre de Dios was founded near the city in 1587, perhaps the first mission in the continental United States.
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page information credit: Diocese of St. Augustine, Mission Nombre de Dios Museum, University of Florida, Old City
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors