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St. Mary Basilica The Mother Church of Catholicism in Mississippi

On June 7, 1841, Bishop John Chanche had been in Natchez for less than three weeks when he wrote to the directors of la Propagation de la Foi Society in France his first description of "the unfortunate diocese which has been lately entrusted to my care."

The bishop was immediately struck by the rich history of his see city, "so celebrated in the early missions to this continent," proposed at one time as the capital of New France.
Source: St. Mary's of Natchez Vol 1&2
By Dr. Charles E. Nolan


It was July 28, 1837, when Pope Gregory XVI erected the Diocesan See at Natchez. On July 22, 1948, Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow (bishop of Natchez) officially moved the bishop's residence to St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, Mississippi.

The move to Jackson was not immediately accompanied by a diocesan name change. It was not until 1956 that the Diocese of Natchez–Jackson became the official and legal title of the diocese.

In 1977, almost thirty years after Bishop Gerow's departure from Natchez, the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Jackson. One hundred and forty years after the diocese had been established, Natchez ceased to be a see city.

Joseph R. Kopacz, is the current Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson.

Source: Cradle Days of St. Mary’s at Natchez by Richard O. Gerow, bishop of Natchez; 1941 (reprinted 1985)
St. Mary’s of Natchez: The History of a Southern Catholic Congregation, 1716-1988, Vols. I & II, by Charles E. Nolan, Ph.D.


Lithograph on stone - St. Mary Cathedral