History for the Corpus Christi Vow for St. Mary Cathedral

Contributed By J.E. Guercio

On September 3, 1862, the Union gunboat “Essex” opened fire on the city of Natchez from one to two hours. Some houses were destroyed and buildings damaged and one person was killed—seven year old Rosalie Beekman. On the 18 of September, Bishop William Henry Elder proposed to make a vow in the name of the Congregation—subject to the approval of the Holy See:

O Lord Jesus Christ—the Word Made Flesh and dwelling among us,—we wish to offer to Thee some little expression of our thanks for Thy unspeakable mercies, and above all for Thy condescension and patience in dwelling corporally in this our city during so many years,—in spite of the coldness and neglect, the disrespect and even the outrages, which thou hast had to endure among us:—whilst from this Thy lowly Tabernacle Thou hast kept watch over us day and night, guarding us from dangers, and pouring an unceasing stream of graces upon us Thy heedless children.—What offering can we make to Thee, O Lord? Verily, the same which Thou assets of us, our love and faithful service.—And as one little act of love,—and to make that love grow warmer in our hearts, we promise Thee that henceforward every year, on the great Festival of Thy triumph in the Blessed Sacrament, The Feast of Corpus Christi, we will unite with our Brethren who keep it as a Feast of Precept: we will repair to Thy Sacred Altar, and take part in that greatest act of Worship which Thou offers in the name of all mankind, the Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass. And to this do we naw bind ourselves by this deliberate vow pronounced before Thy Tabernacle.
Accept this offering, O Most Loving Jesus, and grant that it may be faithfully observed for Thy honor and glory, and for our eternal happiness.—Amen

(Read the details, p.p. 150-153, “Cradle Days of St. Mary’s at Natchez, 1798-1888”.)
(In 1913 dispensation from the vow was requested by Bishop John Gunn, and it was granted.)

Lithograph on stone - St. Mary Cathedral