Catholic believers pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven so that they may pray for us on our behalf. Saints are able to intercede on our behalf, as John reveals in the Book of Revelation that the saints in heaven offer up to God the prayers of those on Earth.

Patron saints are recognized as the heavenly advocates and special intercessors for many things, even states. If you want to ask for the special intercession on behalf of your state, do you know who to pray to?

The patron saint of Florida is Our Lady of La Leche. The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche is located in St. Augustine. As history reveals, on August 28, 1565, sailors of the great Spanish fleet commanded by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land. Sent by King Philip II, they arrived hoping to establish a colony and secure the land for Spain, as well as to convert the Native American Indians to Christianity.

At this location 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, Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto—meaning Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery.

The devotion to Our Lady of La Leche is one of the most ancient of all devotions. The representation of Mary caring for the baby Jesus has inspired painters and sculptors for many centuries. The picture of Mary nursing the infant Jesus is one of the few pictures of the Virgin on the walls of Rome’s catacombs.

Today, more than 450 years later, an image of Our Lady of La Leche still adorns the small mission chapel in the heart of St. Augustine. Visitors come from around the world to pray for her powerful intercession for fertility, for the health of their children and for a safe birth.

The mission is located at 101 San Marco Ave. in St. Augustine. For more information, visit www.missionandshrine.org.