Last Days in St Augustine
22 April 2012 | mooring 28 harbor
Night #7 in St. Augustine, and we plan to get underway-south-tomorrow am. Experienced torrential rain w/thunder and lightning yesterday, last night and again this morning...but as I blog tonight, the sun is shining - getting ready to set - and the church bells from Trinity Episcopal Church are being heard from the shore. What a way to end our 1-week in charming St. Augustine!!
Those of you who follow my blog have become pretty familiar w/my love of the history of the churches we visit - and the city of St. Augustine has not disappointed me! The Mission Nombre de Dios was the 1st permanent Christian settlement in the United States. Father Mendoza Grajales, a Spanish Diocesan Priest, offered here the 1st parish Mass in this land. This marked the beginning of missionary work in the 16th century by Spanish diocesan priests, Jesuits and Franciscans along the Atlantic coast from present day Miami to the Chesapeake Bay and westward to Pensacola. This is the site where western culture and Christianity faith took root in our country. The "great cross" (208 ft.) was erected 150 yrs ago to mark the original landing spot.
Not to be surprised, Henry Flagler was involved in the development of many of the churches in St. Augustine. He wanted the land upon which the Methodists had a small wooden church. Because they were unwilling to sell, he offered them another piece of land upon which HE would finance the building of a new Methodist Church...now called the Grace Methodist Church. The original land, which he acquired in the exchange, became the land upon which the Ponce de Leon Hotel...and later the Flagler College...now reside!
The Baptists, not wanting to be over-powered, asked Mr. Flagler to finance a new church for them. Mr. Flagler, not really being in the church-building business-agreed to donate $10,000 if they raised the 1st $10,000...with one very important stipulation. The new church could have a bell tower, but never have a bell...to this day, the Ancient City Baptist Church has never put a bell in their bell tower.
Mr. Flagler, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, wanted to build a Presbyterian church to the glory of God as a memorial to his daughter, Jennie, who passed away as a result of childbirth in 1889. The pews are made from imported mahogany, and hand carved. There are 12 bronze double-cross chandeliers, originally gas. The dome rises over 100 feet and encompasses several religious symbols. There are 92 stained glass windows, which contain the Apostle's Creed. The baptismal font is intricately carved from a solid piece of marble. Of particular interest is an exceptional lovely pipe organ...depending upon whose version you believe, it consists of anywhere from 465 to 5000 pipes!! No matter...it is still spectacular! The reason there is no bell in the Baptist church is Flagler did not want it to interfere w/the music from the pipe organ! Next to the entrance door is the tomb area in which Flagler's 1st wife, daughter, her baby and Flagler himself are entombed. There is an empty tomb...supposedly for his 3rd wife (his wife upon his death) but her family had her body buried in their hometown. The story goes...his 3rd wife died 6-months after he died...supposedly from poison but history reports that she imported her make-up (during those days in was important to have "pasty looking skin") from Europe, and some of the creams contained arsenic!! That story came directly to me from a tour guide-believe it or not as Ripley says!!
We spent this morning at a lovely, moving service at Trinity Episcopal Church, established in 1821. There are 28 stained glass memorial windows in the church. There is one Louis Tiffany window in the chapel. Above the altar are 3-stained glass windows in which Christ is Blessing the Children.
As I close my blog tonight and listen to the chimes from Trinity Episcopal Church, I look forward to dropping the mooring tomorrow morning and heading south for more adventures...and feeling very blessed that Jim and I have our health to do our cruising and our families who understand our being away. To be continued...