|Yellow Fever Martyrs Museum in Holly Springs, Miss.|
The museum is housed in what was once St. Joseph's Catholic Church, a structure which dates to 1841. (Sadly, the local Catholic parish moved out of this uniquely beautiful and historic structure and into a sterile and indistinguishable 1980s building at the start of that decade.) Inside, a remarkable story of heroism and self-sacrifice is preserved. It dates back to a Yellow Fever outbreak in the town in 1878, an all-too-common chastisement suffered in towns throughout the deep south in this period (New Orleans and Memphis, to name only two, also suffered notable Yellow Fever epidemics in the latter 19th century). All who could afford to leave town during the epidemic did and Holly Springs never recovered, economically or population-wise. But among those who stayed were the local Catholic priest and the sisters of the local Catholic convent. They stayed only to nurse the sick and the dying, and they paid with their lives. The priest, Father Oberti, and six Sisters of Charity were all stricken with Yellow Fever themselves and died.
|Detail from the memorial to the|
Yellow Fever Martyrs in the local
The story of the Yellow Fever Martyrs of Holly Springs should be told and retold. Mississippi Catholics should learn of their heroism. All Mississippians should honor their sacrifice. And Ole Miss students: if you're considering a trip to Holly Springs that's not in the middle of the night, you might take a few minutes to stop by the Yellow Fever Martyrs Museum.