Under an oak and cedar canopy, the small, simple, ivy-covered Chapel of Nuestra Senora de La Leche y Buen Parto, commonly referred to as the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, is a place of quiet prayer.
The present chapel, restored in 1914 in the Spanish mission style of the 16th century, was not the first chapel on the site. Considering that coquina stone was not used for construction until well into the seventeenth century, the assumption is that the earliest chapels were made of wood. These early chapels would have been susceptible to fires and hurricanes.
Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered coquina and oyster shell foundations outlining a building approximately 90 by 40 feet less than 100 feet from the present chapel. It is believed to be a church built in honor of Nuestra Senora de La Leche in 1677-79 at the direction of the Governor of all Spanish La Florida. Following the building’s destruction and another of similar size, smaller chapels of coquina were built on the present site. Bishop Augustin Verot, dedicated one of these chapels on November 14, 1875. Shortly after, that chapel was destroyed by a hurricane.
The present chapel houses the statue of Our Lady of La Leche and is a special place of quiet prayer for those seeking Our Lady’s intercession. A statue of St. Peter, holding the keys of the kingdom, stands above the outside entrance and below a small mission bell. Many visitors purchase candles from the Shrine Gift Shop nearby and place them in the chapel in order that their prayers may continue beyond their visit.