Recognized as an architectural masterpiece among Catholic churches in the south, this is the spiritual home of a vibrant St. Mary Catholic community today. The construction of this place of worship was begun in 1842 as the Cathedral of the newly established Diocese of Natchez.
The St. Mary congregation takes pride in the basilica's colorful and prayerful setting, and welcomes visitors from near and distant places. The city of Natchez, on the Mississippi River and the birthplace of Mississippi, is a tourist destination because of its historic ante-bellum homes. St. Mary Basilica, also ante-bellum, is the city's central landmark.
The church took 40 years to be completed. It was consecrated on September 19, 1886 and remained the Cathedral of the Diocese until 1977.
Twelve of its beautiful stained glass windows, by Tyroler Glassmalerie of Innsbruch, Austria were installed between 1884–1893, and four, by Emil Frei of St Louis, Missouri, were installed in 1961.
The three marble altars, communion rail, Episcopal chair, and screens are in Carrara marble, fashioned in Italy in Gothic style for St. Mary. The two side altars were installed in 1903, while the main altar was installed in 1930. The new oak altar of celebration and pulpit were installed in 1991.