The Jesuits have a strong connection to New Orleans, even though they were expelled from the Louisiana Territory for almost 75 years. On his second expedition to the Mississippi Rivwe, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville brought a Jesuit Priest, Father Paul Du Ru in 1700. Du Ru was the first of many Jesuits who came to the area to establish missions to the Native Americans. Jesuit priest Francois Xavier de Charlevoix, commissioned by the French government to explore and find “the Sea of the West,” visited New Orleans in 1721 and provided some of the first historical accounts of the city.
As the Jesuit mission work grew, Father Nicholas Ignace de Beaubois purchased land along the Mississippi River in what is now the city’s business district – from the Mississippi River to Broad Street and from Common to Felicity streets. The land was turned into a profitable plantation.
But politics would interfere with the Jesuits’ good works. In 1763, opponents of the order demanded an examination of the group’s finances and the Jesuits were charged with neglecting their missions because of their plantation and for usurping the royal authority. The plantation was sold, and the Jesuits were ordered back to France.
The Jesuits were allowed to return in 1837. Within 10 years, the order had established a college, which would become Loyola University, and a high school at the corner of Baronne and Common streets. The high school stayed at the site until 1926, when the school was moved to Carrollton Avenue between Banks and Palmyra streets. Today, the all-boys school has about 1,400 students.