Rising 200 feet into the air, the twin cross-topped spires of St. Joseph's Catholic Church add great beauty to the skyline of downtown Macon.

This lovely old Romanesque, Neo-Gothic church was the realization of an earlier dream of 50 Catholic parishioners and their first priest, Father James Graham.  In 1841, this small group of Catholics had bought a Presbyterian church and started the first catholic parish in Macon, a town incorporated as a city only seventeen years earlier.

Actually, Catholic activity in the Middle Georgia area had its beginning in 1540 when Franciscan friars, accompanying the Spanish explorer, DeSoto, baptized two Indian boys on the banks of the Ocmulgee River.  This was the first known Christian Baptism east of the Mississippi River.

There were twelve pastors after Farther Graham before another church was acquired.  Father James O'Neill, the pastor in 1865, found that the church was too small for his growing congregation and purchased another Presbyterian church, this time on Fourth Street between Walnut and Ocmulgee (now Riverside Drive).  The Bishop of Savannah sent pastors to St. Joseph's Church until 1887, when he asked Jesuits to come from New Orleans to Macon to staff St. Joseph's and to take over the school which the Diocese had begun in 1876, Pio Nono College. One Macon thoroughfare (Pio Nono Avenue) is a reminder of the school named after Pope Pius IX. (Pio Nono is Italian for Pius Ninth).

 

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