The History of the Catholic Church in Florida

This timeline covers the major events in the History of the Catholic Church in the state of Florida. It begins with Ponce de Leon, then traces events from the landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles on the shores of St. Augustine up through the installation of Augustin Verot as our first Bishop. Some significant world events are also included for reference. It can be viewed in a 2D or dynamic 3D format by toggling the icon on the lower left.

1513-04-01 01:20:11

Juan Ponce de Leon

In April of 1513, Ponce de Leon sailed for the country of Spain hoping to find riches and land to conquer in the new world.

1545-04-01 01:20:11

Council of Trent


1565-06-29 00:00:00

Menéndez sails from Cádez, Spain

Captain General Menendez sails from Cadiz, Spain with 19 ships and 1,100 men. Storms force them back and they sail again several days later with 1,504 men, women and children.

1565-09-08 00:00:00

Pedro Menendez founds the settlement of St. Augustine

After traveling by sea for three months, on August 28, 1565 which is St. Augustine of Hippo's feat day, Pedro Menendez de Aviles saw the Florida coastline.

1566-04-01 17:56:35

Antonio Ghislieri elected Pope Pius

Enter story info here

1566-09-01 00:00:00

First Jesuit missionaries

The first Jesuit missionaries arrived in Florida on September 14, 1566.

1566-09-28 00:00:00

First Jesuit martyr in United States

Father Martinez was martyred in 1566.

1573-07-10 00:00:00

Franciscan Friars arrive

Franciscan friars come to St. Augustine, Florida in 1573.

1586-04-01 17:56:35

Rebuilding of St. John Lateran in Rome

1586-06-01 21:10:02

Sir Francis Drake raids St. Augustine

Sir Francis Drake, an Englishman, was an exceptional sailor and a fierce soldier.

1598-04-01 17:56:35

King Philip II of Spain Dies; suceeded by Philipp III

1600-05-31 13:55:40

Our Lady of La Leche

In the early 1600s, the Spanish settlers of St. Augustine established the first Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States. The original chapel and several reconstructions were damaged by storms and attacks. The chapel was rebuild in 1875 by Augustin Verot, first bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. It too fell to the ravages of a major hurricane. The present chapel was reconstructed in 1915 and enshrines a replica of the original statue of Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto – Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery. Throughout its existence, the Shrine has remained a comforting place of prayer for mothers-to-be, for families, for special intentions and for those seeking to strengthen their faith.

1605-02-05 08:04:42

Franciscans open seminary

The Franciscan missionaries opened a seminary in St. Augustine in 1605; it was the first school in the United States.

1605-04-01 17:56:35

Pope Leo XI elected

1607-04-01 17:56:35

Jamestown, Virginia, first English settlement founded.

1620-11-01 23:00:47

English Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock

1650-01-01 11:28:05

Sisters of St. Joseph founded

In 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph are founded in Le Puy, France by Fr. Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ

1670-07-05 23:00:47

English settlement of Charlestown founded

1670-07-05 23:00:47

Pope Clement X elected

1672-01-01 11:28:05

Castillo de San Marcos Started

In 1672, Work began on the Castillo de San Marcos and was completed in 1695.

1674-12-01 22:01:57

First Catholic Priests Ordained

First Catholic Priests ordained in the future United States.

1691-02-01 18:59:58

O'Reilly House was Constructed

The O'Reilly House was constructed in 1691. It is one of the oldest structures in St. Augustine, with only the fort being older. Both the House and the Castillo de San Marcos are built form coquina and tabby. The o"Reilly House has only had seven owners during its 322 year history.

1691-07-05 23:00:47

Massachusetts absorbs Plymouth colony

1691-11-01 00:00:00

Pope Innocent XII elected

1702-11-01 00:00:00

French found settlement in Alabama

1702-12-01 10:21:19

Governor Moore Attacks St. Augustine

In 1702, Governor James Moore of Carolina attacks St. Augustine and the inhabitants seek refuge in the Castillo de San Marcos. Few buildings remain.

1752-11-01 00:00:00

Benjamin Franklin invents the lightning conductor

1763-02-10 10:21:19

Seven Years War Ends

Spain cedes Florida to British in exchange for Cuba

1763-03-03 07:32:50

British proclamation provides government for Quebec, Florida, and Grenada.

1763-03-03 07:32:50

James Cook sets sail on first circumnavigation

1768-01-01 23:26:20

Minorcans Arrive in Florida

1,300 people of Mediterranean orgins were brought to Florida in 1768 as indentured servants to farm an indigo plantation in New Smyrna, Fl.

1776-07-04 07:32:50

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

1778-03-03 07:32:50

James Cook discovers Hawaii

1783-01-15 19:31:23

Florida returns to Spanish control

In 1783 Great Britain returned Florida to Spain.

1783-03-03 07:32:50

American Revolution ends, Great Britain recognizes independence of United States

1784-01-01 19:31:23

Father Miguel O'Reilly comes to St. Augustine

Father Miguel O' Reilly was an Irish priest in the service of the Spanish crown during the Second Spanish Period. In 1784, O'Reilly came to St. Augustine and within the next year buys the property for a church (the current Cathedral site) and rectory. The O'Reilly House becomes his parish home where he mentors a young priest named Fr. Felix Varela. Fr. Varela becomes famous for his fight for Cuban independence and for his devotion to the Irish immigrants in New York City.

1784-03-03 07:32:50

First School for the blind opens in Paris

1790-03-03 07:32:50

Benjamin Franklin dies

1793-01-01 19:31:23

Father O'Reilly succeeds Father Hassett as pastor of St. Augustine

As pastor of St. Augustine, Father Thomas Hassett had done great things for St. Augustine, such as opening the first free school for boys. Father Miguel O'Reilly was the next pastor of St. Augustine. Fr. O'Reilly would go on to help educate many more students.

1795-03-03 07:32:50

Napoleon appointed commander-in-chief of Italy

1797-03-03 07:32:50

Tallyrand becomes French Foriegn minister

1797-12-08 07:34:14

New Parish Church

Father O'Reilly Dedicates New Parish Church in St. Augustine

1802-03-03 07:32:50

Napoleon becomes president of Italian Republic

1803-03-03 07:32:50

Louisiana Purchase: U.S. more than doubles land mass with purchase from France.

1805-03-03 07:32:50

Napoleon crowned King of Italy in Milan Cathedral

1812-03-03 07:32:50

U.S. declares war on Great Britain

1812-03-03 07:32:50

War of 1812

1821-12-01 07:34:14

Florida becomes a territory

Florida becomes a territory of the United States in 1821

1823-03-03 07:32:50

Mexico becomes a republic

1823-03-03 07:32:50

Pope Leo XII elected

The History of the Catholic Church in Florida

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