Mass to be celebrated as part of History Week

Father Tony Arguelles will celebrate Mass at the Biloxi Community Center on Wednesday, marking the 310th anniversary of the date in 1699 when the French explorer Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville came ashore to establish the Biloxi settlement.

The 10 a.m. Mass, which is open to the public, is part of Mississippi Coast History Week, a three-day display of history that is timed to coincide with the Feb. 13, 1699 landing in Biloxi, which was eventually named capital of the Louisiana Territory.

The community center is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Wednesday. The observance began Monday. Those venturing the Howard Avenue community center should travel U.S. 90 and turn north at Bellman Street, at the Church of the Redeemer site, to avoid construction on Howard Avenue.

Among the attractions: Colonial living-history demonstrations, family-tree and pinch-pot making and an archaeological display from the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Mississippi Archaeology Association.

Displays can be viewed from historical societies from Long Beach, D’Iberville, Hancock County and elsewhere; ethnic heritage groups representing Acadians, Africans, Jews, Irish, Vietnamese and others; Coast institutions such as USM Katrina Center, Beauvoir, Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum and Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

It was on Feb. 13, 1699 when the French explorer Iberville and 14 men initially landed on the shores of an area they named Biloxi after a tribe of Native Americans they encountered. The exact landing spot is believed to be somewhere between present-day Edgewater Mall and Rodenberg Avenue, according to local historian Edmond Boudreaux.

Said Boudreaux: “I personally think the area around Beauvoir would be the exact location. The reason is that area is due north of the natural harbor of Ship Island. Iberville indicated that he went to the mainland north of the location of his ship. The ships were moored in the natural harbor on the north west end of the island, except for the Francois, a man o’ war that due to its deep draft was south of Ship Island in deep water.”

More online

— To print a flier about the 19th annual history week observance, click here.

— To see photos from the History Week displays from this morning, click here.

— To read Edmond Boudreaux’s online history of Biloxi, in the history section of the city web site, click here.