By: Raphael Cosme
Photojournalist for Historic City News
The City of St. Augustine, the oldest in the nation, adds a new page to its history. The Cathedral Basilica of San Agustín became the sacred center of one of the largest ceremonies in the Catholic community — the canonical coronation of Our Lady of La Leche.
The ceremony is a crucial part of the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of St. Augustine. It was a historic moment for the Church supported by Monsignor Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estevez. Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain, consecrated the image of Our Lady of La Leche by placing the “Papal Seal” on the extremely popular mother, teacher, and model of Christian life for millions of faithful in Florida and the rest of the world.
“I am amazed to hear how, after the Spaniard colonizers arrived, the first thing they did was celebrate the Eucharist. That impresses me, because it is the greatest gift that a human being can receive; surrendering to Jesus Christ who is the creator of Fraternity and Peace,” said Cardinal Osoro in an exclusive interview. “I celebrated mass and was impressed to consider the altar where the first mass was celebrated then to see how that tradition is continued. The environment is wonderful to observe the devotion to the Virgen de la Leche and El Buen Parto and everything that it carries with it.”
The canonization events of Our Lady of La Leche were held last Sunday, October 10, 2021, in the Cathedral Basilica of San Agustín. The Eucharistic celebration was mostly in the Spanish language. Our Lady of La Leche was officially crowned and canonized around 3:00 p.m.
At about 4:00 p.m., the image of Our Lady of La Leche left through the main door of the Cathedral. When the image arrived at the rotunda of the Mission of Nombre de Dios, several ministerial groups including the Knights of Columbus, Order of Malta, and Sons of Our Lady, carried the Virgin on their shoulders.
A crowd of people tried to touch the image to receive their divine gifts and others tried to take a “selfie” with their phone. Cardinal Osoro advanced towards the crowd that minutes before had watched the live broadcast of the Canonization of the Virgin inside the Cathedral. There was a lot of joy and applause as he moved among a large procession of people, including children adorning his path with rose petals.
Bishop Felipe Estevez de San Agustín offered his message to the pilgrims about the Virgin of Our Lady of La Leche and then crowned the procession which continued to the Shrine of the Hermitage where it was enthroned.