The Virgin, Mother of the child Jesus, caring for His tender body and nourishing Him during His long months of human weakness, has inspired mothers and future mothers with the miracle of Bethlehem. The Catacombs in Rome during the second century display the Blessed Virgin Mary nourishing baby Jesus. The great museums of art in Europe contain paintings of Our Lady of the Milk and of the Good Delivery, eloquent proof of the devotion of women from all centuries to the nursing Mother of Baby Jesus.
In Madrid, there is a statue of the Virgin, Our Lady of the Milk that had been rescued from sacrilegious hands; it was kept in the home of a pious marriage. When it seemed that most likely the mother and the inborn son would die, Our Lady of the Milk heard the desperate pleadings of the husband, and granted her a joyous delivery. Together, the couple spread the news of the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary before Our Lord to other families. Knowing of the intercession of Our Lady of the Milk, King Phillip III of Spain personally built a sanctuary in honor of her maternity. Little after, this devotion became one of the most popular in all of Spain.
In the 1620’s the Spanish colonists, as a sign of their love for the nursing Mother of Jesus Christ, established the first sanctuary dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in what is today the United States. It was established in the same place where the first Mass had been celebrated years before, at the Mission ‘Name of God’, in St. Augustine, Florida. The rustic chapel and several others, built after were destroyed by the artillery in the first days of the colony, and later by hurricanes. The actual chapel was built in 1915, and there a replica of the rustic statue is exposed. The altar and the statue from the church of San Luis in Madrid were burnt on March 13, 1936 by the communist during the Spanish civil war.
Thousands of Mothers go to the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Milk at St. Augustine to ask for the blessing of maternity, pleading Our Lady of the Milk for her intercession, in order that God may obtain for them a good delivery, as well as joyful and pious children. Several thousand write annually to the Priest director of the sanctuary asking that they be remembered in the Masses and prayers. Also thousands of letters are received testifying to the love of Our Lady of the Milk to her devoted and faithful children.
The admiral Spaniard Don Pedro Menendez de Avilez, general captain of the fleet to the Indies and pioneer of Florida, disembarked in this place and claimed it for Spain and for the Church. In his diary, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain priest of the expedition, wrote:
>On September 8 (1565), the General disembarked displaying many flags, with the sound of trumpets and greeted the artillery. Since I had disembarked the previous night, I took the cross and I went to receive him, singing the Te Deum. The General, followed by all who accompanied him, marched up to the cross, knelt before it and kissed it. A great number of natives (Indians) observed what was taking place and then imitated what they saw.
Menendez then named the place “Name of God” and charged Father Lopez the mission. Lopez then became the first priest of St. Augustine in the United States. Here the first Mass was celebrated.
From here the missionaries evangelized the Indians and with time established almost 200 missions. To the north it extended to the bay of Chesapeake, to the south to Miami, and to the west to Pensacola. This last mission began as a petition of the Indians who sent a delegation who walked to St. Augustine to ask that missionaries be sent.
In 1620 the chapel to Our Lady of the Milk and Good Delivery was built, the first chapel in the United States dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Till now Our Lady of the Milk and Good Delivery is venerated here. A beautiful statue of the Virgin, tenderly nursing, is conserved in the chapel. The original statue was lost but was replaced several times. However the mothers have not ceased to come and ask for the intercession for a good delivery. In our times, marked by the horror of abortion, this sanctuary is also a place of pilgrimage to ask the Mother of God for an end to abortion.
Beautiful Lady of the Milk, beloved mother of Baby Jesus and my mother, please hear my humble prayer. Your motherly heart knows all of my desires, all of my needs. Only to you, Immaculate Virgin has your Divine Son made known the sentiments that fill my soul. Yours is the sacred privilege of being the Mother of the Redeemer. Intercede now to Him, my beloved Mother, so that, according to His will, I can be mother of the children the Lord desires to send me. I ask this, O Lady of the Milk, in the name of your Divine Son, My Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Your gentle Mother, Our Lady of the Milk, who carried you close to her heart during the long months before your birth, I entrust myself into your hands. I implore you deliver me from useless and consuming worries. Accept the sacrifice of my ills and pains, which I join with your sufferings on the cross. Above all, merciful and loving Jesus, protect from all evil this child which you have given me, bestowing upon him the health and vigor that every child needs. Place in my heart and on my lips the prayers of your Mother and mine, our beautiful Lady of the Milk. All of this I ask with the intention that my child and myself can live to adore eternally Your Holy Name. Amen.
To you, Beautiful Lady of the Milk, and to your Divine Son, I dedicate now this child that our Lord has granted me. I ask that you obtain for me the physical and spiritual graces that I need, to fulfill my duties at each moment. Inspire me with the maternal sentiments that you felt during the time that you spent with the child Jesus. Obtain that I may, imitating you, O Lady of the Milk, nourish my child in perfect health. In all things help me to follow the example that you, perfect model of all mothers, have given me. Allow my family to reflect the virtues of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Lastly, I commend to your tender care all mothers of the world, in whose hands He has entrusted the souls of His Little ones. Amen.