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A Brief Biography of Five Persons found in the old catholic cemetery Plot 1
Before the first bishop arrived in Natchez, the Gireaudeau Family is recorded to have hosted visiting priest overnight, and Mass was said in their home on the corner of State and Rankin Street, Northwest corner. This would be on the same block as the church and diagonally opposite. Our present pastor, David O’Connor, featured Felicite’ in the production Bless This House performed in the sanctuary of the church in the year 1992.
Mother Mary Thomas McSwiggen was Mother Superior of St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum on the S. W. corner of Jefferson and Rankin Streets. She came in 1857 and died in the orphanage in 1877. The Civil War stories concerning her and the orphanage are the material that inspire significant movies. She helped establish St. Joseph School for Girls in 1867.
We feature her today for her exemplary life dedicated to the many children she loved for twenty years. Please, take a Memorial Tribute home with you and read over it from time to time. It will be a blessing to you and your family.
Rose and her unmarried sister, Lula Reale, lived in the Van Court Townhouse, corner of Washington and Union Street. They had money in the day when it meant something and they used it for the benefit of the church. Under the auspice of Monsignor Fullham, in the 1950’s, their dollars built the convent. See the marble tablet in the lobby of the old convent. The Holy Monstrance which they donated is rarely used, so we have made a picture for you to remember. Give thanks to God for all our benefactors.
He married a catholic, Ann Battles. His children are said to have been baptized in the Saint Louis Cathedral. His diary, The Ante-Bellum Diary of a Free Negro, is unique. Read his memo for August 23, 1844, when lightening hit the cathedral. His home on State Street and some of his possessions are now owned by the Natchez National Park.
In his will of June 13, 1880, he gave $1,000 to install a town clock in the cathedral bell tower. The stain glass window in the sanctuary of the basilica, Our Lady of Sorrows or Pieta was installed in 1884 with interest from the McGraw Fund.