Timeline History of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral:

1717    Spanish Mission is established at Los Adaes near Natchitoches (Robeline)

1722    French settlement is established in Natchitoches. Post needed for protection of travelers on Red River and over land.

1764    The Poste du Rapides is established. The area is under Spanish rule but serviced by French and Spanish priests.

1770    A census shows 8 houses, a small Apache village of 21 houses and 44 Indians.

1782    Catholic Mission is established. The area is back under French rule. Silver chalice dates to 1782. French missionary priests from Natchitoches serve the post.

1785    Spanish rule again and help French settlers move in from Nova Scotia. Liberal Spanish land grants are given out.

1793    The territory falls under the “Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas,” a very vast area that stretches from Canada to the southern tip of Florida.

1801    Louisiana area transferred back to France.

1803    The Louisiana Purchase takes place

1812    Louisiana becomes the 18th state of the United States. Population of Alexandria: 840

1817    St. Francis Xavier Chapel is built.

1832    Site for new St. Francis Xavier Church obtained.

1834    A wooden St. Francis Xavier Church officially established.

1848    Father Bellier assigned in residence as visiting priest to a large area for a few years.

1850    Father Bellier transferred to New Orleans.

1853    The Diocese of Natchitoches is formed with St. Francis Xavier Church as one of its parishes.

1861    Civil War, Father Bellier returns. Alexandria is burned and in ruins. St. Francis Xavier Church is saved.


1867    Area slowly recovers. Father Avenard replaces Father Bellier. Rebuilding of the parish and town continues.

1876    Parish grows and repairs are made to St. Francis Xavier Church.

1877    Father Menard assigned as assistant.

1883    Father Avenard dies. Father Menard returns. Rest of the decade brings many trials and changes.

1885    Talk of building new, larger, stone and brick church.

1895    Cornerstone laid for new church. Old church burns. All records pre-Civil War and Civil War era lost.

1896    Temporary chapel built on new site. Building of new, large church continues.

1899    New church ready to occupy. Seating capacity: 720. Cost: $40,000.

1900    Midnight Mass has 500 in attendance.

1910    The See is moved from Natchitoches and the Diocese of Alexandria formed and encompasses all of north Louisiana. St. Francis Xavier Church is designated a Cathedral.

1920s-1940s     Continued growth and trials and improvements.

1945-1946       World War II ends, Bishop Greco comes to the Diocese of Alexandria. Windows in the church are replaced with the current beautiful stained glass from a glass studio in St. Louis, MO.

1950-1960       Growth continues.

1977    Church is refurbished.

1984    Church celebrates 150th anniversary

1986    Diocese is split into Diocese of Alexandria and Diocese of Shreveport.

1990    Renovations and improvements continue.

1995    100th anniversary of the brick St. Francis Xavier Cathedral building.

1996    St. Francis Xavier Cathedral undergoes extensive renovation.

2003    New organ installed, the largest in Louisiana.

2010    The Diocese of Alexandria celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

2020    203 years since the first St. Francis Xavier Chapel was built in Alexandria.

Window diagram

Window key:

1, 2, 3. The Ascension of the Lord

4. Jesus with two disciples at an inn on the road to Emmaus

5. The Annunciation

6. Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth

7. JHS-taken from Greek to mean Jesus, Son, Savior

8. Carpenter’s tool and monogram “J” for Joseph

9a. St. Matthew

9b. Winged man: because St. Matthew trace Christ’s genealogy

10a. St. Mark

10b. Lion: because he likened St. Jon the Baptist’s message to a lion’s roar

11a. Christ the King


12a. St. Luke

12b. Ox: a symbol of patience and strength

13a. St. John

13b. Eagle: reference to the soaring inspiration of St. John’s prose, resurrections, generally based on early belief that the eagle renewed its plumage.

14. Rose window (east): jewel-like in coloration, decoration and shape. Twenty feet in diameter, (currently?) the largest rose window in the state of Louisiana (when it was installed).

15. Decorative window

16a-b. Christ visits Mary and Martha

16d. Jug, grapes, table, bread

17a-b. The Good Samaritan

17c. Snake, crutches

17d. Olives, container

18a-b. Jesus commissions Peter

18c. Church, rocks

18d. Tiara, keys

19a-b. Shepherds visit the baby Jesus in the manger

19c. Three crowns and the Epiphany star

19d. Ciborium, ur and censer; symbols of the gifts of the Magi

20, 21. Two small decorative windows

22. Large decorative window over 20 and 21

23, 24, 25. Three decorative windows

26. Jesus teaching in the temple.

27. St. Joseph’s workshop

28. Flight into Egypt




29. Purification of the Virgin

30, 31, 32. Three decorative windows

33, 34. Two small decorative windows

35. Large decorative window over 33 and 34

36a-b. The Resurrection

36c. Phoenix

36d. Lily

37a-b. St. Francis Xavier heals a sick man

37c. Book, rosary, cross and shell

37d. Broken idol

38a-b. Return of the prodigal son

38c. Lamb

38d. Flower, olive and staff

39a-b. Christ speaks to the little children

39c. Hen and chicks

39d. Lily, heart and cross

40. Decorative window

41. Rose window (west): jewel-like in coloration, decoration and shape. Twenty feet in diameter, (currently?) the largest rose window in the state of Louisiana (when it was installed).

The Pelican design in the center depicts the greatest love of all creatures for its offspring, will pierce its own breast to feed its young with its own blood. Symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross because of His love for all persons, symbolized the Eucharistic Sacrament, and in some imagery is seen nesting on top of the Cross.

42a. Angel

42b. Tent and star

43a. St. Bernadette

43b. Crutches

44a. Immaculate Conception

44b. Water and rock

45a. Little flower of Jesus

45b. Crutches

46a. Angel

46b. Tent and star

47. Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the temple

48, 49. Two small decorative windows under #4

50. St. Vincent de Paul

51. Agony in the garden