On Oct. 10, 2021, the Diocese of St. Augustine will receive the honor of having a canonical coronation of Our Lady of La Leche.
Our Lady of La Leche is only the fourth site in the United States to receive the honor of a Canonical Coronation. The others include:
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, crowned in 1895, in New Orleans, La.;
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 1904, in New York City, N.Y.; and
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, 2013, in Lake Charles, La.
What is a canonical coronation?
Simply put, it is a formal act of the pope to crown, in his name, an image of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary or St. Joseph that is widely venerated in a particular diocese.
Pope Francis has sent a papal legate, or a personal representative, from Rome to Florida. The papal legate will place a special crown on a newly carved statue of Our Lady of La Leche at the Cathedral Basilica during mass. Bishop Felipe Estévez will also be in attendance.
Afterwards, Our Lady will be processed by motorcar to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche where she will be placed in the Historic Chapel.
Who is the papal legate?
Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra is the Archbishop of Madrid. Originally from Castañeda, he was ordained a priest on July 29, 1973. He served in several head positions in his diocese before being appointed bishop in 1997 by Pope St. John Paul II.
Pope Francis elevated him to cardinal in 2016, referring to the cardinal as “Don Carlos the pilgrim,” due to his frequent walks around his archdiocese. He is often seen taking time to stop and talk with residents, workers, and passers-by.
“He says that to be a church that goes forth is to walk the path where the people are,” said Rodrigo Pinedo Texidor, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Madrid. “In that way, what he wants [is] to make himself close to the people and to be there with people in every situation.”
Who is Our Lady of La Leche?
The image of the Mother of God nursing the Infant Jesus is one of the most ancient devotions, found on the walls of Rome’s catacombs. Devotion to this particular image came from Spain in the 16th century, where she was called Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto or Our Lady of Milk and Happy Delivery.
When the first Spanish settlers arrived in the New World in present-day St. Augustine, they brought with them their strong Catholic Faith and Traditions, including a trust in Mary’s intercession to her Son on our behalf. They erected and dedicated a chapel to Our Lady of La Leche on the grounds of Misión Nombre de Dios.
When King Philip II became aware of Our Lady of La Leche's intercession, he ordered the erection of a shrine to honor her Motherhood. It is now the oldest shrine in America.
Since then and continuing today, God has granted many miracles through the intercession of Our Lady. Those hoping to conceive and those going through a difficult pregnancy often seek her help. But Mary is Mother to all and she intercedes for all types of causes.
How can I participate in the coronation?
While attendance at the coronation in the Cathedral is by ticket only, there are several ways to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event. People will be able to view the crowning through livestream at different parishes in the diocese. At the National Shrine, there will be a jumbotron screen in an area open to the public.
To find out which parishes are hosting the live stream click here.
To view the detailed schedule of activities at the National Shrine visit their site at https://coronation.dosafl.com/schedule/.
But of course, the best way to participate is to make room in your heart for God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, go to confession, receive the sacraments, and study His Word.
Bishop Estévez is also asking all the faithful to consecrate themselves to Our Lady of La Leche this October and follow her to Christ.
Prayer of Consecration to Our Lady of La Leche
Most pure and holy virgin, mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you this day and every day. The final action of your Divine Son as he gave his life on the Cross for our salvation was to give to us you, most Holy Virgin, as our mother. Fully confident in this gift given by our Savior we now come before you seeking your loving care and maternal protection.
We ask you to intercede for us to your Divine Son for our many needs, for He can refuse you nothing that is not in accord with His will. Mary, Splendor of the Father and Full of Grace, you became pregnant with God through the power of the Holy Spirit, transforming Him into Sacred Humanity and delivering to us the supersubstantial Bread from Heaven, your most sweet milk that is the Eucharist.
May this act of consecration draw us ever closer to your Son present to us in the Blessed Sacrament. Nurturing Mother, pray for us, so that we may receive the grace to turn away from sin, to desire God alone, and deliver Christ to those we encounter in our lives. Give us also the strength to bear our crosses bravely, uniting our suffering with those of your Son for the sake of His body the Church.
Our Lady of La Leche, accept this sincere act of consecration and hear the prayers that we make in the name of your most holy Son, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
For the Novena to Our Lady of La Leche click here.