For the perpetual record: The well-being of the universal flock of Christ divinely entrusted to us requires and demands that with utmost care and vigilance we provide for all those things which we know to pertain to the good of the Catholic religion and the benefit of the faithful of Christ. Therefore, since our venerable brothers, the Archbishop of Baltimore and the Bishops of the dioceses of the United States of America assembled in provincial synod during the month of April of this year, 1837, have sent to us a petition in which they ask that, in order to better promote the increase of the Catholic religion and more easily and more expeditely procure the salvation of souls in the province of the Mississippi river, we be pleased to constitute a new episcopal see in the city of Natchez, to which See shall be subjected the whole state of Mississippi, which heretofore has been under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of New Orleans. --PopeGregory XVI, July 28, 18371
Literally with the stroke of a pen, Pope Gregory XVI officially established a Catholic diocese in Mississippi. Before 1837, the church had existed in the Magnolia State, but it had been moved from one jurisdiction to another before the pope decided it was time to anchor it in one official see. Mississippi would now not only have its own bishop but also have its own cathedral, parishes, missions, stations, clergy, religious, and everything else normally associated with the church. It would also have its own problems, too, just like every other Catholic diocese. How the church developed, grew, and adjusted to changing times provides an interesting and intriguing story.
In the case of the Mississippi Catholic Church, one of the characteristics of its history is just how much it interacted with the state of Mississippi. The church, in short, did not grow in a vacuum. It affected, was affected by, and lived within a changing environment known as Mississippi. Sometimes, the church and Mississippi's political and social climate grew together quite well. Other times, they