St. Augustine Florida – Catholicism Arrives in the New World in 1565

First Mass 1565; First Mission 1565; First Marian Shrine 1620 and more

26 April 2021 to 29 April 2021

About the Pilgrimage

Brochure & Itinerary


Join Steve and Janet Ray

Announcing! Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has agreed to join us for Day 1 for Mass, dinner and a talk!

Fr. Kevin Peek, Chaplain, Georgia Army National Guard and Priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta


Imagine it is 1565: Five ships sail into a small cove on the coastline of what was known to the Spanish as La Florida. Under the command of General Pedro Menéndez de Aviles, they come to the New World from Spain.

Sent by King Philip II, they arrive in hopes of establishing a colony, securing the land for Spain, and most importantly, to convert the native American Indians to Christianity.

On September 8, 1565, the feast day of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spanish on the ships, sailors, soldiers, tradesmen and priests, came ashore. Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, recorded the day’s events in his diary:

“On Saturday, the eighth, the General landed, with many banners spread, to the sounds of trumpets and the salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn “Te Deum Laudamus.” The General, followed by all who accompanied him, marched up to the cross, knelt and kissed it. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all that they saw done.”

Following Menendez’s veneration of the Cross, thus proclaiming this land in the name of God (Nomre de Dios,) Father Lopez celebrated Mass at a rustic altar made of wood. The sky served as the roof for what was the first parish Mass in what is now the United States.

It was on this sacred ground that the Spanish settlers would begin devotion to Our Lady of La Leche (Mary nursing the infant Jesus.) In the early 1600’s the Spanish settlers of St. Augustine established the first Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States.


DAY 1: Travel to St. Augustine | Mass at Cathedral | Welcome Dinner

• Independent flights to Jacksonville, FL.

• Transfer via private motorcoach to St. Augustine, FL, where you will meet your hosts, Steve and Janet Ray.

• 3 nights at the Hampton Inn — Vilano Beach, located 100 yards from the Beach and Atlantic Ocean. Check-in and freshen up.

• Opening Mass at the Basilica Cathedral in Old Town St. Augustine.

The cathedral walls are adorned with exquisite murals that depict scenes from the history of the Catholic Church in the development of the New World. There are also stained-glass windows showing scenes from the life of Saint Augustine of Hippo, for whom the city was named.

• Welcome Dinner at Columbia, an authentic Spanish Restaurant in Old Town. Established in Florida in 1905.

DAY 2: Fountain of Youth | Sightseeing Old Town | Afternoon at beach or pool

• Morning Mass in the chapel at Mission Nombre De Dios. First Mission in America, established 1565.

Old Town sightseeing Tour. Discover St. Augustine’s old-world history as we ride a specially designed tour train along the narrow cobblestone streets.

A great way to get the lay of the land for free time later. Delight in the city’s European flavor, with centuries-old buildings, horse-drawn carriages, hidden courtyards, and so much more. Saint Augustine has plenty of history to explore — more than 450 years of it!

Fountain of Youth Archeological Site. Ponce de León was said to be searching for the Fountain of Youth when he discovered Florida here in 1513.

See the Coquina (stone) Cross estimated to date back to 1513 when Ponce de Leon landed. Take a drink from the famous fountain, and take some pictures of the spectacularly beautiful peacocks which roam the grounds.

• Free time this afternoon at the hotel to enjoy Vilano Beach on the Atlantic Ocean or the pool. Either is a beautiful choice!

• Motorcoach transfer, this evening, for dinner and shopping on your own in the Old Town.

DAY 3: Birthplace of the Catholic Church in America | Farwell Dinner

• Enjoy a day at the serene waterfront grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios (Name of God,) established in 1565.

• Location of first Catholic Mass in the USA in 1565.

• Statue of Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales who celebrated the first Mass.

• 208 Foot tall stainless steel cross.

• First Marion Shrine, in the USA in 1620.

• Stations of the Cross built with stones.

• Picnic lunch on the grounds of the Shrine.

• Celebrate Outdoor Mass, just like in 1565!

• Return to the hotel to freshen up.

• Farwell Dinner this evening.

DAY 4: Closing Mass | Return home

• Closing Mass with our new friends.

• Following a wonderful visit to Historic St. Augustine, the Birthplace of the Catholic Church in America, depart to Jacksonville Airport.

• Independent flights back home.

$1199 Regular price, per person after March 5, 2021
-0 Early Booking Savings
-0 Discount for payment entirely by cash or check
*$1199 Early Booking / Cash Discount price per person (double occupancy)

Brochure & Itinerary


Contact our Reservations Team at 866.557.2364 or