"Throughout the years, the Blessing of the Fleet has all the majesty of tradition and the solemnity of a religious ceremony. Gaily decorated shrimp boats, private yachts and small pleasure crafts participate in the tradition blessing. This custom began centuries ago to bless and protect the fishing vessels and their crew and to insure their safe return to port. As the vessels pass by the municipal pier, they are solemnly blessed by the Bishop or pastor of the Cathedral Of St. Augustine with the recitation of the Ancient Prayer of the Sea. "May the Blessing of Almighty God, The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost descend upon these ships and upon all who shall be in them and remain forever Amen".
At the conclusion of the passing of the boats, a floral bouquet in the shape of an anchor is placed in the water of Matanzas Bay to float with the tide out to sea.
The Blessing of the Fleet begins immediately after Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica where the "Royal Trio" and the Easter Festival Week Entourage including The Bishop of St. Augustine will proceed through the streets from the Cathedral to the City Pier."
This Year's Blessing
With roots from the Spanish Colonial days when seafaring vessels would be blessed so as to have a safe journey, the tradition continues in 2018. All watercraft from trawlers to yachts and more are welcome. Each vessel is encouraged to decorate with flags and bunting as well.
The Schooner Freedom Decorates herself in traditional sailing flags as well as palms scattered around the starboard side of the vessel. Family and friends of the crew come aboard as well as several nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The ceremony begins at noon on Sunday, March 25, 2018, with a procession from the Cathedral Basilica along the Plaza de la Constitución to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. This traditional blessing will then take place at the Marina. This event is open to the public.
You will be able to view the Schooner Freedom best from the Bridge of Lions or on the North Dock.
When: Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018, at noon.
Where: Begins at the Cathedral Basilica located at 38 Cathedral Place (along the plaza) and ends at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina located at 111 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FL 32084.
Call (904) 824-9725 for more information.
Information gathered from Visit Saint Augustine.