About Our Lady
The devotion to Our Lady of La Leche has special significance in the Diocese of St. Augustine. From the time Spanish explorers established the town of St. Augustine in “La Florida” in 1565, they brought with them a particular devotion to the Blessed Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On Sept. 8, 1565, the first Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated on these shores – it was the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Shortly after, a special devotion to Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto – Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery began. Since the early 1600s, this devotion has been kept alive by countless people of faith who travel to the oldest Marian shrine in the United States to seek the Blessed Mother’s intercession for a safe delivery of their child, for the gift of fertility, for those seeking to strengthen their faith and for many other special intentions. The Santa Fe Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, grounded in the rich traditions of the shrine in St. Augustine, will provide people living in the western counties of the Diocese of St. Augustine and others traveling to Florida a place for pilgrimage and spiritual renewal. The name of the new shrine has rich meaning and historical significance to the people in the High Springs area. Santa Fe (meaning Holy Faith) is derived from an old Franciscan Mission named Santa Fe Toloca once located near the famous 75 mile Santa Fe River which crisscrosses the High Springs area. The original St. Madeleine Church that was located in the heart of High Springs was moved to the parish’s current site 35 years ago. The building that was once used as an Adoration Chapel by the parish has been renovated for the new Shrine. The new wood carved statue of Our Lady of La Leche is from the Demetz Art Studio in Ortisei, Italy. This beautiful 18-acre setting is perfect for silent prayer and contemplation and includes the Emmaus Walking Trail with many unique devotional opportunities for pilgrims. There is also a Marian Grotto, outdoor Stations of the Cross, Memorial Garden and Cemetery on the property.
In the article linked below, Bishop Estevez discusses how "Bishop Augustin Verot’s leadership of Florida’s first Roman Catholic Diocese has left lasting impacts on the state today."
Bishop Estevez explains that "(he) received approval from the Catholic Church for a special Feast Day, Oct. 11, to honor Our Lady of La Leche. In 2019, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops accorded national shrine status for Our Lady La Leche." He goes on to say, “I told the bishops it was long overdue because this is the first Marian shrine (in the United States). Our Lady of La Leche portrays the image of the dignity of the mother and protection of the child."
Further in the article, Bishop explains that he "also added the Santa Fe Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in High Springs at St. Madeline Catholic Church." Lastly, he asserts that "an important fact is the location. The ‘western shrine’ is three miles from Interstate 75. Catholic tourists travelling I-75 to Orlando, St. Petersburg, Miami, have Our Lady of Leche (nearby). It is very strategically placed,” he said."
- Bishop Estévez: Decisions by Bishop Verot impact today