Every year the Arkansas Delta Byways Tourism Association recognizes individuals, organizations, businesses, and events that capture the spirit of the Delta region. This year Helena is proud to announce that the Art & Architecture Tours of St. Mary's Catholic Church are a finalist for the Cultural Heritage Award. The award winners will be announced at a banquet in Marianna on Friday, February 23.
Arkansas Delta Byways is a fifteen-county association whose sole responsibility is to promote tourism within the region.
The Art & Architecture Tours of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Helena originated as part of the Church’s 75th Jubilee Celebration in 2012. Besides the tours, the event included the publication of “Catholicism On the Mississippi: The Helena Story” written by local parishioners and containing a chapter on art and architecture unique to the Church. The tours, well received by the local community and visitors, have continued to grow in popularity each year.
Now part of the excursions offered by the American Queen Steamboat Co. to their passengers during the Helena dockings, the tours are given by parish volunteers and are free to the public. Along with the widely distributed tour brochure, both Arkansas Life and the Arkansas Catholic have published articles on the Art & Architecture Tours. Travel writers and researchers, from across the country, have visited St. Mary’s to hear the story and see the designs, stained glass and mural by three young artists, all of whom became world famous. Visitors also learn what makes the church “…one of the best examples of an Early Christian Church west of the Mississippi”.