Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, and here’s a new Going Inside post.
If you’ve been to Natchez, I’m sure you’ve noticed the grand Gothic Revival St. Mary’s Cathedral–eh-hem, excuse me, St. Mary’s Minor Basilica–right downtown with its steeple towering so high that unless you have a super-fancy camera, you can’t ever get the whole building from top to bottom in the picture. The building was begun in 1842 but not completed on the interior until 1886. Let’s go inside.
The minor basilica has a wonderfully concise but detailed history on its website–I wish all churches had such good information readily available for curious people! Here’s what they have to say about the congregation’s history and its beautiful church building:
The Diocese of Natchez—the first diocese in Mississippi—was established in 1837. Two years later in 1841 Bishop John J. Chanche arrived as first bishop. Not long after his arrival, Bishop Chanche set about building a cathedral, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1842. The not-yet-finished Gothic Revival Cathedral—named Our Lady of Sorrows—was dedicated on December 25, 1843, but took 40 years to complete. Then on September 19, 1886, it was consecrated and remained the Cathedral of the Natchez Diocese until 1977.
Twelve of the sixteen stained-glass windows, designed by Tyroler Glassmalerie of Innsbruch, Austria, were installed from 1884 to 1893. The remaining four were designed by Emil Frei of St. Louis, Missouri, and were installed in 1961.
There are three marble altars, communion rail, Episcopal chair, and screens, made of Carrara marble that were fashioned in Italy in Gothic style for St. Mary. The two side altars were installed in 1903 and the main altar was installed in 1930. A new oak altar of celebration and pulpit were installed in 1991.
Go Inside even more!