Bella Vida by Letty

World’s Tallest Free Standing Cross in St. Augustine Florida

Cross in St. Augustine

The world’s tallest free standing cross can be found in St. Augustine, Florida on the historic grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios and the first Christian church in the US.  I read about it while researching my trip to St. Augustine in the roadside oddities list and was curious to see it in person.  Giant crosses are not something you see every day.

You don’t have to be religious to visit the grounds.  I’m not.  It’s a peaceful place laid out like a park with lots of shade and a winding path where every so often you will find manmade religious relics.  The path continues over a small bridge with a pond on one side and Matanzas Bay on the other leading to a cemetery and the old mission structure.  The church and gift shop are near the street and parking.  You are not required to enter either.

The stainless steel cross is located in the center of the grounds and rises 208 feet above the marshes of the Matanzas River.  It was built in 1965 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christianity and founding of the city.  It is placed where it is said the founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés  placed a small wooden cross.  Pedro Menendez de Aviles was sent by the Spanish crown to drive out the French colonists.  Matanzas is a Spanish word that means slaughter.  These waters were named so because of the amount of soldiers killed by Menéndez and his men.  According to the NNDB database: “His letters prove him to have been a pious and high minded officer, who never imagined that he could be supposed by any honest man to have gone too far in massacring the Frenchmen, whom he regarded as pirates and heretics.”

Cross Collage

The prettiest spot here is the Chapel of the Lady of La Leche in the small cemetery under the canopy of large shade trees.  A lovingly restored building dating back to the 1700’s made of coquina stone, a natural rock formed from seashells.  It is a small Spanish mission style structure beautifully covered in bright green vines.  The chapel houses a replica statue of Our Lady of La Leche.  It is said thousands of pilgrims come to ask the statue for motherhood and other blessings.

chapel

Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered a few other coquina structures on the property.

I recommend visiting this location for a peaceful getaway from the heat and the wonderful breeze off the bay in a park like atmosphere.

Have you visited this historic place in St. Augustine?

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