Outdoor Mass recalls 12 priests who arrived in Florida in 1539

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Fla., combined a diocesan “Year of Celebration” and the international “Year for Priests” Oct. 22 in a Mass dedicated to all priests who have served in Florida, including the 12 priests and friars who accompanied the 1539 Hernado de Soto expedition to the area.

The Mass was concelebrated by 10 other priests at the Holy Eucharistic Memorial on the shores of the Manatee River at Riverview Pointe Preserve and the De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, Fla.

The diocese has posted a news item about the event on its Web site. (Scroll down to the second item.)

The Holy Eucharist memorial  features an obelisk carved with symbols of the Holy Trinity.

Mass at DeSoto National Memorial

Photo courtesy of Venice Diocese

There is also a 60-foot memorial cross that was added to the site in ’95 in memory of the priests who accompanied de Soto — the Spanish explorer who led an expedition of  Florida — and in memomy of the Native Americans who inhabited the area.

Bishop Dewane was commemorating the Diocese of Venice’s 25th anniversary as a diocese, and tied in Pope Benedict XVI’s designation of the “Year for Priests,” which runs until June 19, 2010.

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