David Arbesu


Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the secular priest from Jerez de la Frontera who sailed across the Atlantic with Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, can truly be considered one of the "founding fathers" of Florida. Apart from being a key figure in Menendez' expedition, he served as the first vicar of St. Augustine and San Mateo, helped establish the first permanent mission in the United States, and, as Michael Gannon reminds us, celebrated "the first mass in America's first city." An eleven-foot tall statue of the chaplain erected in 1958 on the grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios marks this important event, commemorating his role in what many scholars believe was the first Thanksgiving feast on American soil-the meal that the Adelantado and his soldiers shared with the Timucua Indians of the village of Seloy on September 8, 1565.

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Available for download on Wednesday, October 01, 2025