Southern Sojourn

I am in the south, where people eat grits. They really do.

I am in a town called “Nákatish”, Louisiana, although it is spelled, Natchitoches. It really is.

There is a lovely Minor Basilica here, of the Immaculate Conception.


This used to be the cathedral of a diocese that was suppressed in 1910, though it is still a titular diocese.


The basilica’s umbraculum, one of the important symbols of its status.

Note the altar cards on the side altar.  This is a clue as to the way things are done here.


Here is a memorial stone.


Another stone.


The old seminary has been preserved.


I am giving a series of talks here as part of a parish retreat.  My first talk was tonight.  I spoke about “Active Participation: a matter of life and death”.  I was asked to speak on matters liturgical. On Thursday we are to have a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form.  It will be the first Solemn Mass here nearly 50 years.

The young priests I am meeting here are great.  The people of Nakatish are very fortunate.

A view of the basilica this evening after the first talk.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Will D. says:

    It’s a nice town, indeed. Make sure to get yourself a meat pie while you’re there. Lasyone’s is the big name in town for them, I believe.

    (Note, Natchitoches is not to be confused with Nacogdoches, TX.)

  2. discipulus says:

    I’m curious, who is titular bishop of this former diocese?

  3. Ichabod says:

    I’m jealous. I was last in Natchitoches, Louisiana before Christmas. Wonderful town. Be sure and try their meat pies and anything with pecans or crawfish. My favorite lasting image is seeing a Christmas light decoration above one of the streets in the shape of Santa Claus in a voiture (a carved wooden boat common in the bayous, a skiff or pirogue) being pulled by nine alligators!! A scene straight out of “A Cajun Night before Christmas.” Try the northwest town of Shreveport, too. Great folks.

  4. RJ Sciurus says:

    It would appear that you are among the Catholic Underground. Très bien!

  5. Archbishop Marino, Nuncio to Malaysia.

  6. PeterK says:

    Fr. Z could you expand upon this statement?

    “This used to be the cathedral of a diocese that was suppressed in 1910”

  7. SKAY says:

    Welcome to Louisiana Father!!! How lucky they are in Natchitoches to have you come to speak.
    I am also glad to hear about the young priests there.
    Are you coming to “south” Louisiana—that would be south of I-10. : ) Lafayette in particular(Cajun country).
    Have you tried crawfish or gumbo yet? I am sure you could find alligator — if you really wanted to try it.

  8. NBW says:

    Beautiful pictures Father. I like the sunset it’s beautiful!

  9. Elizium23 says:

    That happens to be the Titular See of my beloved Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares! Give my regards!

  10. Elizium23 says:

    Gargh! I goofed up. This titular see is similarly named to another one called, in Latin, Natchesium, which is the titular see of my aux +Nevares. This one Fr. Z is talking about is the titular see of Joseph Salvador Marino, Apostolic Delegate to Brunei Darussalam.

    By the way, for future reference, all of this information is readily available at the great site

  11. Incaelo says:

    And Natchitoches’ last bishop (and Alexandria’s first) was a Dutchman: Msgr. Cornelius van de Ven. He came to the US immediately after his ordination in 1890. During his time in office, the seat of the diocese was transferred to Alexandria (whih had a railroad and a larger Catholic population), which meant a new name for the diocese after Pope St. Pius X gave permission in 1910. Natchitoches was resurrected in 1995 as a titular see.

  12. knute says:

    !! My dad and I used to sell plants there, and we’d stop to visit that church while in town. Glad to see you could step in and see how beautiful it is!

  13. Sonshine135 says:

    When I see churches like this (reminds me of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio), I always wonder why it is that we don’t build beautiful Houses of God like this any more. Sure it would cost a lot more, but isn’t that the point?

  14. mrshopey says:

    Welcome to the South, Father. May you be greeted with hospitality that can not be beat! :) Be sure to have some pecan pie or Gator meat while you are here!

  15. incredulous says:

    mrshopey, he’s even convinced himself that gator meat is acceptable during lent. How blessed he is!

  16. Kerry says:

    If one hasn’t tried grits, at first, ask to try just one. Heh.

  17. incredulous says:

    Perhaps we can host Father Zuhlsdorf in an alligator hunt next time we get some tags in October. Then he can eat what he’s bagged. And, I wonder how a gator skin maniple would go over ‘cuz there’s the meat and there’s the hide…

  18. Eat a Natchitoches meat pie while there! They are awesome. My brother got married in St. Augustine Parish along Cane River. That is the Church that was used to film a scene in Steel Magnolias.

  19. ASPM Sem says:

    If you have the chance, visit the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile, AL – it’s super beautiful as well!

  20. ASPM Sem says:

    PeterK: It was at one time the cathedral for the Diocese of Natchitoches, which is now merely a titular see.

  21. acardnal says:

    No snow on the ground. How abnormal for you.

  22. wmeyer says:

    The south is, of course, where some people eat grits. I don’t, I really don’t. Grits seem to me like corn meal, improperly prepared. ;)

  23. Marc says:

    Father Z, I had the pleasure of hearing this talk “Active Participation: a matter of life and death” at Fortes in Fide. I was wondering if you ever considered offering your talks as MP3s for a donation on this page? This is one I would love to share with EVERYONE!

  24. oledocfarmer says:

    Natchitoches is the town where the film STEEL MAGNOLIAS was filmed. Beautiful place.

  25. JacobWall says:


    Peopel ARE building churches like this again! It’s starting slowly, but it’s definitely there. Take a look at these 3 articles; note the pictures of these recently-built (or in some cases, renovated) churches and the names of the architects: (an overview of the revival of classic church archetecture) (the website of a beautiful FSSP parish in Colorado, built in 2009) (an interview with Duncan Stroik, one of the prominent architects)

  26. pj_houston says:

    “Thems hominy grits”

  27. Andkaras says:

    Wasn’t Natchitoches a favorite haunt of Walker Percy?

  28. Do they have ‘chicken fried steak’ in that neck of the woods?

  29. wolfeken says:

    Such a charming little town. The last time I visited, about six years ago, the nearest Starbucks was an hour away. Now that’s God’s Country.

  30. claiborneinmemphis says:


    cheese grits.

    add a little butter, garlic powder, and tons of cheese to prepared grits, stir, then add as much cayenne pepper as you can possibly stand.

    We eat it regularly, and always at family holiday/birthday meals, when we pair it with greens, boiled shrimp, and some kind of pork (usually country ham)

    Cannot beat it

  31. AgricolaDeHammo says:

    Ahh yes, home of one of the excellent hosts of the Catholic Underground Podcast. Great photos!

  32. PeterK says:

    Whenever someone says they don’t like grits, I ask “do you like polenta?” And when they answer yes i tell them that polenta is just grits by another name

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