[Adapted from Where the Cross Stands]:
In 1965 the diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, with an inspired sense of history, and perhaps the future, erected a gigantic stainless-steel Cross at the site where a priest named Father Lopez had planted a makeshift one precisely four hundred years before — upon the earliest extant European settlement in the U.S. — and where a deeply Catholic admiral, Pedro Menendez, made his official landing, on September 8, a few days later. It was also near what some believed was the earlier point of landing for Ponce de Leon.
The point was that a Cross — the world’s tallest, as far as anyone knew — stood along the inlet, and the inlet was not only a substantial body of water in and of itself, but part of one of the world’s greatest bodies of water: the Atlantic Ocean, beckoning to the same sea once traversed by explorers!
I’d had no clue of all this when I first moved to Florida. The diocese described it, in its literature, as a beacon.
“This massive structure, made of stainless steel and rising two hundred and eight feet above the marshes of the Matanzas River, stands as a sentinel over the Mission and a ‘Beacon of Faith’ for all who pass this way,” said its website. “The plaque at the base of the world’s tallest cross, which is 208 feet high, says that it ‘marks the approximate site where in 1565 the Cross of Christianity was first permanently planted in what is now the United States.’ T
hat’s right — Jesus arrived in America here first, over a half-century before the Pilgrims even touched their toes to Plymouth Rock (and forty-two years before Jamestown). ‘The Great Cross’ (as it’s known) was erected to mark the 400th anniversary of that momentous day. It’s built of seventy tons of stainless steel plates, packed with concrete in its lower third to prevent toppling by hurricanes. It’s part of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, and its height was designed so that everyone near St. Augustine could see it, and be reminded ‘of the religious beginning of our nation.'”
Close by was a famous lighthouse — another beacon.
And of course there was the shrine of Nombre de Dios with the chapel housing Our Lady of La Leche, a place of purported miracles. Our Lady was fashioned after a statue back in Spain that was said to have survived the blasphemy of a drunken sailor and was credited with saving the pregnant and desperately ill wife of a man who rescued the image, as today her image is implored by women who are pregnant or wish to be. She is shown nursing a Child the same way she nursed the birth of America right from this place.
Would Our Lady of La Leche too — despite its precarious location in the hurricane belt — serve as a special spot in coming times?
One needed not fear storms. In the early 1800s — two and a half centuries after Father Lopez recorded that comet — a cargo ship sailing from Spain had suddenly been engulfed in a storm as it neared the treacherous port there.
“The captain, fearing the loss of his vessel and the lives of his crew, ordered the men to throw everything overboard,” wrote Nancy H. Murray (in The Madonna’s of St. Augustine). “A lighter load would better the chances for survival. In a corner of the ship’s hold, among motley contents, the men discovered a statue of striking beauty. No one knew where it came from nor to whom it was going. When the captain saw the statue, he immediately bade the men kneel down and pray for safety to the Virgin Mary. As the salty spray washed over the deck, they heard the imploring voice of their captain: ‘Oh, Hurricane Lady, if this storm may pass and we arrive safely in port, we will give your beautiful statue to be enshrined permanently in the port of St. Augustine… Almost immediately, the wind calmed, the waves subsided and the cargo ship limped into port.”
More to the point: might Catholicism, and with it Christianity, somehow, one day — soon — be brought back to full original life — revived — in this area, if not at this spot, after major events occurred, after purification?
Perhaps! But for now: I knew where things were headed. It was daunting. Not only were gays marrying each other (then Vice President Joseph Biden, a Catholic, would even officiate at one), but religious institutions of whatever stripe were being forced in Europe to hire openly homosexual applicants. Meanwhile there was that eruption of vandalism against Catholic statues that was reminiscent of the statue destruction across Rwanda just before Kibeho, which of course had been followed by the great genocide.
Signs of the times.
Never mind the shattered Clearwater glass! She was painted black, was Mary, covered with satanic graffiti, beheaded, as were statues of Jesus; she was smashed to pieces.
Every week brought a new article about a desecrated statue, usually the Virgin, somewhere in North America. Would Trump stop this — could he?
He was a last hope, if a hope he was. For the spiritual war was breaking forth in many ways and very blatantly:
- In Switzerland, a pagan show replete with horned man, an all-seeing eye, and new-world sexual imagery served as ceremony for the world’s longest tunnel (Gotthard).
- In that same nation a statue of the Hindu “god” Shiva, also known as “The Destroyer” (his duty was to “destroy worlds at the end of creation and dissolve them into nothingness”) was placed in front of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and its controversial Hadron Collider (which some feared would spark a tremendous subatomic chain reaction). In 2016, an occult ritual — some said as a staged hoax by scientists — was held before it, in front of a camera.
- During half-times Super Bowl half-times, similar Shiva-like, horned costumes were part of the entertainment.