On April 9, 1682, Robert Cavelier de la Salle planted the cross on Louisiana soil and erected a plaque with the French fleur-de-lis. He claimed the lower Mississippi Valley in the name of God and the French King. The Catholic colony that developed, with its center in New Orleans after 1718, quickly became one of North America's most culturally and ethnically diverse cities with residents from Europe, Africa, the North American colonies such as Martinique and Canada as well as a small number of Native Americans. The first Acadians arrived in the 1760s. The Louisiana colony formed a distant part of the Diocese of Quebec in Canada.
The colony's pioneer parishes were established at Old Biloxi [Ocean Springs, Mississippi] (1699), Mobile in Alabama (1703), Natchez in Mississippi (1716), Robeline (1717), New Orleans - St. Louis Church - (1720), La Balize near the mouth of the Mississippi River (1722), the German Coast [later St. Charles in Destrehan] (1723), Pointe Coupee (1728), Natchitoches (1728), and Chapitoulas [Metairie] (1729), the latter seven all in Louisiana.
In 1727, Ursuline nuns from France arrived in New Orleans to take charge of the Royal Hospital and to provide education for the colony's girls and women. They immediately began instructing African and Native American girls as well as the daughters of European settlers. Their school remains the oldest continuously operating school in the United States.
At the end of the French period, more than a half dozen permanent settlements had been established in the lower Mississippi Valley. Already a third generation of native-born Louisianians - Creoles - was appearing, particularly outside of New Orleans.
Other Significant Dates
||Father Anastase Douay celebrates first recorded Mass on Louisiana soil near the mouth of the Mississippi on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
||Father Paul Du Ru and Bayougoula Indians erect the first chapel (near Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish)
||First Eucharistic procession takes place
||The Sodality of the Children of Mary is established in New Orleans
||The "Catechism for the Province of Louisiana" is published
||The first Acadian baptisms & marriages take place at St. Louis Church
||Governor Antonio de Ulloa arrives to establish Spanish government in Louisiana