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celebrating 150 years: a romanesque revelry.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate a variety of traditions with family and the community. For the Church of the Holy Trinity of Vicksburg, some of these traditions are over 150 years old.

At the corner of South and Monroe streets in Vicksburg is the beautifully Romanesque Church of the Holy Trinity. The church was founded on September 29,1869, making this year its 150th anniversary. The church's architectural brilliance is among the most impressive in the Deep South, and its history entices people from across the globe. The remarkable stained-glass memorial windows are not the only elements that shine a light of hope within the church.

The tumultuous years following the War Between the States made it difficult for a new church to survive, let alone thrive. However, 60 members of the historic Christ Church were determined to build the foundation for a new, larger house of worship for their growing city. To bring the church to life, the women sponsored numerous public events including fundraisers, auctions, fairs, dinners, luncheons, socials, and steamboat cruises. These events provided funds for building and furnishing the new Episcopal church.

Although the church was making significant progress, troublesome years were ahead. These years consisted of financial panics and recessions as well as the 1876 course change of the Mississippi River, and the fatal disease of yellow fever. The yellow fever epidemic wiped out more than 300 residents in the city of Vicksburg during the summer of 1878. Among these deaths were three leading members of the building committee, and two of the men's wives died shortly after, leaving four children orphaned. Construction of the church ceased for six months following their passing. On Easter Sunday in 1880, when the first service that was held in the church, the parish arranged three stained-glass windows above the altar in memorial of the five founding members they lost.

Through the years, 29 additional memorial windows have been placed in the church to honor lost loved ones. These also include reconciliation memorial windows to honor all of the fallen in the War Between the States. The majority of these windows are made of traditional stained glass, with the exception of six opalescent windows made by the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York prior to 1910. There are only 11 of Tiffany's beautiful windows in the entire state of Mississippi, and this church contains over half of them. The Church of the Holy Trinity Romanesque Revival style stands out among all of the other churches in the state. In recognition of its architectural influence and age, the church was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. People from all over the world came to Vicksburg to visit the historic landmark, and its a popular stop on riverboat tours.

Timothy Abies, a church representative, found newspaper articles written in 1869 that featured a Church of the Holy Trinity fair. The women of the church organized this three-day event to raise money for the construction of the church. These women raised over $2,500, which equals almost $50,000 today.

Abies and other members of the church are recreating this church fair and calling it the "Turkey Dinner and Bazaar" in honor of celebrating 150 years. "The church fair fizzled out over the years, except for the bake sale," says Bobbie Marascalco, chair of the bazaar. "This year, we have decided to have the bazaar again." It will be set up outside, similar to a street fair. There will be live music, tents, vendors, flea-market booths, bake sales, and even fine art. This event will also feature its annual turkey dinner, which has been a tradition within the church for nearly a century. Last year, about 900 meal tickets were sold. This year, the goal is to sell 1,000. "The dinner is a major fundraiser for the Episcopal Church Women's group," says Logan Peay, chair of the Turkey Dinner. "It's also a great way to kick off the holiday season." There will be a large variety of foods prepared, including turkey, green beans, dressing, rolls, cranberry salad, and dessert. The turkey dinner and bazaar will be held November 21, the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

For more information, call 601.636.0542 or

photos by DAVID RORICK
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Title Annotation:TRAVEL & ADVENTURE: Noteworthy
Author:Schuler, Nicole
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2019
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