The Northeast Florida Area of the Order of Malta shares a very special day in history with St. Augustine, America’s first Parish, and the oldest European settlement in America. On September 8, 1565, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, stepped ashore in Northeast Florida, kissed the cross presented by his priest, and claimed the land for God and King.
That very day, half a world away, after three and a half months of one of the most intense sieges in the history of warfare, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta broke the Great Siege of Malta. In the stunning defeat of the legendary Ottoman Turk ruler Suleiman the Magnificent, several hundred Knights of Malta, supported by a few thousand Maltese citizens and under the protection of Our Lady of Philermo, turned back a siege of hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of hardened Mohammedan warriors.
At a stroke, Our Lady preserved the Faith in the Old World foreclosing near certain domination by the Mohammedans, and opened the New World to the Catholic, the Apostolic, the Roman Faith. Christ’s True Faith preserved in Europe by the Knights of Malta, defending the islands granted to them by the King Of Spain; the same day Christ’s True Faith introduced to America by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés at the behest of the King of Spain.
On September 8, 2018, the Knights and Dames of Malta in Northeast Florida joined descendants of the Spanish who sailed under Menéndez to celebrate the 453rd anniversary of this remarkable day. Old World and New World rejoice at the astonishing coincidence wrought by the Knights of Malta, Menéndez, and the Spanish King, all under the protection and guidance of Our Lady on the Feast of Her Nativity. In St. Augustine, She is revered as Our Lady of Le Leche; the Order of Malta venerates her as Our Lady of Philermo.
Click here to see photos of the reenactment of the 1565 landing and veneration of the Cross.
Ad Jesus per Mariam!