"How many times have we walked over this?" asked archaeologist Kathleen Deagan as she pointed out the foundation corners of the church less than 100 feet from the statue of Father Francisco Lopez, the Catholic priest who was chaplain for the fleet of St. Augustine founder Pedro Menendez.
The discovery offers a "wonderful opportunity to learn more about the lives of the Spanish friars and American Indians who lived at the mission," she said.
ABOUT THE NEW DISCOVERY
* The church, ordered by the Spanish governor of Florida, was constructed in 1677
* Its size is at least 90 feet by 40 feet
* It consists of coquina stone and tabby foundations
* It is the only mission church made of stone
* It is one of largest churches in colonial Spanish Florida
* Research at the site and a dig at the Foun-tain of Youth are supported by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Lastinger Family Foundationw
ABOUT THE SITE
* Shrine of Mission of Nombre de Dios/Nuestra Senora de la Leche
* Owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine
* Nombre de Dios Mission, first Franciscan mission in Florida
* Mission established 1587, lasted until 1760
* In the 1620s, Shrine of Nuestra Senora de La Leche and Buen Parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Safe Delivery) were established at site
Why is this find special?
* Although the Spanish began construction of the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672, it wasn't completed until 1695. The rediscovered church was built in 1677
* Twice the British took over the church and battles were fought on the site
* In 1728 after English raiders destroyed the building, the Spanish blew it up to keep it from being used again as a staging ground.
* Through the years the ruins gradually became buried and the location forgotten.
* Stone from the building was probably used to construct another church on the property and when that church was taken down, archaeologists speculate it was used for construction of the church that eventually became the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.