The Statues in the Basilica

In his diary, Bishop Janssens under date of February 25, 1882 we read: “Placed in their niches the statues of the Mother of Sorrows and St. Francis of Assisium, gifts of my mother. St. Alphonsus, St. Edward, gifts of my brothers, Edward and Alphonse. St. Aloysius and St. Agnes gifts of Constance Pollet and Louise. St. Theresa gift of Miss Fanny Inegles.”

Two other statues are mentioned in his diary, under date of December 21, 1883: “The statue of the Sacred Heart in the Cathedral was donated by the Most Rev. Archbishop Elder, and the Pieta by me.”

This from Cradle Days of St. Mary’s at Natchez, by Most Rev. R.O. Gerow.

When did we begin to venerate saints?
The various Church communities cherished the early Christian martyrs and commemorated the

  • Agony in the Garden

  • The Baptism of Jesus

  • The Immaculate Conception

  • The Sacred Heart of Mary

  • The Sacred Heart of Jesus

  • The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

  • Mother of Sorrows

  • Saint Agnes

  • Saint Aloysius

  • Saint Alphonsus

  • Saint Anthony

  • Saint Anthony

  • Saint Edward

  • Saint Emily

  • Saint Eustachius

  • Saint Francis of Assisi

  • Saint John the Baptist

  • Saint Patrick

  • Saint Roch

  • Saint Therese of Avila

  • Saint Therese of Lisieux

  • Saint Vincent de Paul

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anniversaries of their deaths (their birth into eternal life) by keeping all-night vigil at their graves and celebrating a Eucharist in the early morning.

By the time Christianity became an accepted religion in the Roman Empire, the cult of martyrs was well established and they were being invoked as intercessors. Particular saints could plead before God on behalf of certain communities or individuals.

Members of the community still living on earth could intercede on behalf of those in purgatory. Praying for the dead is based on the scriptural passage in 2 Maccabees 12:43-46: "It is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins."

There was much emphasis placed on this idea of a saintly community in the early Church. All the saints—those on earth, those in heaven and those in purgatory—were seen as belonging to the one body of Christ.

St. John Chrysostom, who died in 407, called for a "feast of martyrs of the whole world." At his behest the feast of All Saints (All Hallows), those known and unknown, has been observed since his time.

The fourth-century Nicene Creed leaves us in no doubt of the importance of this early Church teaching. As Christians we profess a belief in the communion of saints.

Adapted from Scripture from Scratch, a newsletter from St. Anthony Messenger Press


Lithograph on stone - St. Mary Cathedral