St. Benedict the Moor Church

St. Benedict the Moor Church

Historic Lincolnville is home to St. Benedict the Moor Church, the first African American parish of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, named for a Sicilian friar known for service to his community despite illiteracy and humble means.

In 1871, the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart vowed to serve and minister to newly freed slaves. In 1892, Josephite Bishop John Moore acquired land in St. Augustine that once was part of the Yallaha plantation orange grove and began to develop the site for a church and school. The first building erected in 1898 is now the oldest surviving brick schoolhouse in St. Augustine and one of the first schools for Black children in Florida.  Construction of the parish church began in 1909; the church was completed and consecrated in 1911. The rectory was completed in 1915.

The buildings have seen many important moments in Civil Rights history. In 1916, Sisters Mary Thomasine, Mary Scholastica, and Mary Beningus were arrested under Jim Crow laws that prohibited white teachers from teaching Black students. The three sisters were quickly acquitted when a judge ruled the law did not apply to private schools.

In 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. used the rectory to plan marches and demonstrations to support the civil rights movement that played a significant part in the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The school closed soon after, partly because of desegregation legislation.

The school building, currently undergoing significant restorati

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St. Benedict the Moor Church

82 ML King Street, St. Augustine, FL


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  • ico-y-wscreen.pngBottger Mansion of Old Town
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Presented by St. Benedict the Moor Blues Festival at St. Benedict the Moor Church

Oct 28 - Oct 30, 2022

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Featured Venues

Fort Mose Historic State Park

fort-moseFort Mose Historic State Park is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose for short, as a settlement for those fleeing slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas. Over the next 25 years, Fort Mose and Spanish Saint Augustine became a sanctuary for Africans seeking liberation from the tyranny of English slavery.

St. Augustine Visitor Information Center (VIC)

visitor-centerFor half a century, visitors to St. Augustine have made the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Visitor Information Center their first stop upon arriving in the Nation’s Oldest City. Commonly known as the “VIC,” the center offers information on special and cultural events, brochures and guidebooks for the area's attractions, clean restrooms, a gift shop. The VIC is staffed with friendly fully licensed tour guide hosts who gladly share information on attractions, museums, tours, accommodations, restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. The VIC is where a St. Augustine vacation begins, whether you plan to stay a day, a weekend or longer.