Saint Augustine, Florida [audio icon]

City founded on 28 August 1565 by Pedro Menendez who named it in honor of the saint of the day, Saint Augustine of Hippo. Landing on 8 September with a band of Spaniards, Menendez attended the solemn Mass of Our Lady's Nativity at Nombre de Dios. The slaughter of Ribault and the settlers at Fort Caroline on 20 September established Spanish supremacy over French Huguenots in the New World. Father Mendoza (one of the four priests who arrived with Menendez) became first parish priest of Saint Augustine, which was the first established Catholic parish in the territory of the present United States. Saint Francis Borgia sent Jesuits in 1566. In 1577 Franciscans arrived. In 1586 Sir Francis Drake unsuccessfully attacked the town. The general massacre of 1597 was a severe check to missionary work, but after the baptism of Indian chiefs in 1609 the missions flourished again. By 1674 there was evidence of decline and universal ignorance of Catholic doctrine, due to internal dissension and English hostility. Partially revived in 1720, Florida's ancient Catholicism was obliterated in 1763 when Spain ceded Florida to England. Religion suffered irreparably when the English attempted to populate the country and develop its resources.

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