America’s First Parish

A recent update put me in Gesu Church, the oldest in Miami. But that wasn’t my formal stop in Florida. Rather, in the Sunshine State, I went to Mass in the oldest church in the United States.

St. Augustine, Fla., is home to America’s First Parish, now the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. As you can see below, it’s a beautiful church building, one that attracts scads of tourists, not just me.

The cathedral is located not far from the site where Spanish explorers landed in the New World and immediately conducted Mass. That ground was dubbed America’s Most Sacred Acre by former President John F. Kennedy, four days before he was assassinated.

The parish also includes the mission church St. Benedict the Moor, which was once the Catholic Church for the African American community in St. Augustine but today is just a diverse neighborhood parish. St. Benedict the Moor has its own slice of history, as Dr. Martin Luther King visited there in 1964.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
Looking on from the rear of the church.
St. Benedict the Moor, once the parish for African American Catholics in St. Augustine.
The chapel on America’s Most Sacred Acre

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