Spent some time yesterday visiting a Carmelite Community in St. Augustine. That was a wonderful experience. They meet in a house near the Mission of Nombre de Dios the site of which was where the first Mass was offered in the United States in 1565. In addition, the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche is there as well, and a number of other interesting buildings and memorials.
But overall, St. Augustine is a sad little city. It has a beautiful, small historical district, that is so overrun by commercial interests that it is hard to identify anything at all historical about the place. You walk by houses that are hundreds of years old and discover that they've been converted to sales areas for new age relics or bikinis or lingerie.
The Castillo de San Marcos, as a National Park site, is well maintained, well kept (as much as a building almost four hundred years old composed of local coquina can be. It marks a high point of any visit to the city. It overlooks Mantanzas bay and the Bridge of Lions which is under reconstruction now. But as for the rest, it's hard to believe that you're walking through an area of any great vintage--the concerns and the obvious plights--homeless, drug-addled, just plain vicious, are so evident and so numerous, that one is left with the sad recognition that this most historic of cities is in desperate need of God's mercy and help. It was more than a little sad.