(submitted by and photos by Gerald & Tammy Westmoreland)
The Catholic community in Natchez traces its origin to 1682 when Robert de la Salle and his party traveled from Lake Michigan down the Mississippi River. A priest in the explorer’s party celebrated the first documented Mass just south of Natchez. The Diocese of Natchez—the first diocese in Mississippi—was established in 1837. The cornerstone was laid in 1842, dedicated on December 25, 1843, but took 40 years to complete. Then on September 19, 1886, it was consecrated. In 1977 the Diocese moved to Jackson, Mississippi, and St. Mary became a church. Then on September 8, 1998, St. Mary was designated a Minor Basilica. One year later—on September 25, 1999—the formal dedication took place.
Address: 105 South Union Street, Natchez, Mississippi
Church Website: www.stmarybasilica.org