Music Festival Benefits Christians at Risk Initiative

A festival March 4 at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine will highlight the sacrifice Christians make for their faith.

The Museum at Mission Nombre de Dios with the Great Cross in the backgound | Photo: St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband

No Greater Love Festival is being held “in the spirit of the Servants of God of La Florida,” who were martyred for their faith in the 17th century. A cause for the canonization of Antonio Cuipa and Companions has been opened. The details of the deaths of missionaries and native Christians at the hands of the British and Creek Indians are being documented and will be sent to the Vatican.

Dr. Mary Soha, a postulator for the cause, said the cause seeks canonization for 86 priests and natives, but they have identified at least 144 who died, including seven who were killed at Mission Nombre de Dios.

Those martyred at the mission include Father Augustin Ponce de Leon, the first American-born priest to be martyred, who died trying to rescue two altar boys who were captured by the British for the slave trade. The others were Joseph, a sacristan, and Roberto and Eladio, both Yamasee Indians, who were trying to protect the Eucharist, Soha said.

Antonio Cuipa was an Apalachee Indian who was killed in the Tallahassee area. A descendant of Cuipa’s will be at the festival to participate in a Living Cemetery, where they will represent seven groups of martyrs in the cause.

Mary Catherine Damon, festival organizer, said that when hearing the stories of the martyrs she is reminded of the modern-day persecution of Christians in the Middle East, especially Syria.

“I look at the courage they had to witness to their faith and want to reach out to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to offer humanitarian relief,” Damon said.

Proceeds from the festival will go to the Knights of Columbus Christians at Risk Initiative.

Catholic musician/singer/songwriter, Audrey Assad | Photo: Special

The festival begins at noon with live music, vendors, food trucks and children’s activities. The documentary, “Our Last Stand,” about the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria will be screened at the Mission Nombre de Dios Museum.

At 3 p.m. Bishop Felipe Estévez will celebrate Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios. Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation will also be available at the shrine.
The performance by musicians Colleen Nixon, singer/songwriter/worship leader, and Audrey Assad, daughter of a Syrian refugee, begins at 6 p.m. on an outdoor stage.

Afterwards Soha will speak about the canonization effort for the martyrs, and a Knights of Columbus representative will talk about the relief effort in the Middle East.

Tickets are $10. Bring a chair or blanket.

For more information or to buy tickets, click here. Visit the official festival website at www.NoGreaterLoveFestival.com.