5 Jul 1998
Angels of St Augustine - Epilogue

Hi Ben,

Recently my husband and I escaped for the weekend to St. Augustine, Florida. We were eagerly anticipating a much deserved rest. I was looking forward to retracing the steps I took 11 years ago where I first met Angels.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and found a motel close to the old Spanish Quarter. What a difference 11 years makes. It was easy to see that St. Augustine had experienced explosive growth and a ten-fold increase in traffic. Nearly every building over a hundred years old had been "restored" and converted to a business -- hats, T-shirts, seashells, restaurants, "antiques," etc. Pottery shards, ballast rocks, old cannons and anchors could be found all over town. But the old charm and historical feel to the place was gone. I recognized little of what I had seen so many years before. Over the next 2 days we visited nearly every historical site in the area: Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the Nombre de Dios (America's first mission established in 1565), Our Lady of La Leche Shrine (the Spanish call it "Our Lady of Abundant Milk"), a Spanish Military Hospital established in 1791, St Photios National Shrine (Greek Orthodox), and many other sites of interest scattered throughout the Spanish Quarter. We found a small burial site at Ponce de Leon's Park. The Catholic Church conducted a mass there in 1991 and the site was covered over. But a full survey of the Old Spanish Quarter revealed no trace of the archeological site I visited more than a decade before. I was disappointed.

By Saturday evening I was footsore and frustrated. Workers at the Visitor Center remarked that Native American protests led to the closure of all ancient burial sites. They had no idea where the sites had been located, but one of them directed me to the curators at the Government House Museum. So off we went. When I explained what I was looking for, one of the museum guides said he had been in on several of the digs, pulled out a tourist map, and circled a nondescript two-story building on King Street. "I was in that building this morning," I said. "There's nothing to indicate a burial ground." "Bone fragments were found when they started to remodel the building so remodeling stopped until the site was excavated," he explained. "The site was left open for public viewing only a couple of years. When the bones began to deteriorate, the site was covered over and remodeling of the building continued. The bones are under the floor on the right side of the building."

We sought out the building on King Street and walked into the corner store, an antique shop called "Centuries Past." The proprietor knew little of the history of the burial mound under her floor. She said some of the taxi drivers told stories of old hauntings in the area but that she had not seen or heard anything unusual in the 6 years her shop had been there. I thanked her for the information and left. On the way out I said under my breath, "Well Father, looks like the clean-out was effective. I'm glad of that, but I am a little disappointed there is nothing for me to do here."

The response to my prayer, said gently, with no recrimination: "Trudy, how many souls did you pass on the street today? How many of them did you bless? How many did you pray for?" I suddenly remembered something you told me, Ben: That God sees no difference between a soul with a physical body, and a soul without one. A lost soul is a lost soul.

It's amazing how course corrections come. God is gentle with me.



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