Harrison County

Toppled in Katrina, ‘The Last Supper’ monument raised at a Coast cemetery before Easter

On the day that Christians remember the Last Supper, a monument depicting the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting was raised out of a ditch after 13 years.

The 12,000-pound granite slab is thought to have stood in Southern Memorial Cemetery since it was built. It withstood Hurricane Camille, but toppled in Hurricane Katrina and stayed that way until Thursday.

Gulfport Ward 7 Councilwoman Cara Lero Pucheu and businessman Jacques Pucheu took over the Southern Memorial Cemetery in October, and realized they had a lot of work to do.

One of their priority projects was raising the monument engraved with a copy of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting, that once stood tall in the middle of the cemetery.

“It’s been laying in a ditch covered in mud for more than 13 years,” Jacques Pucheu said. “The first thing we wanted to do was raise it. We were hoping to do it before Easter.”

While the slab now only shows the engraving, a picture from 1972 shows it was once painted with color and had a line of hedges behind it.

“There’s a lot of people who want to restore it,” Pucheu said. “There used to be a lot of color on it.

“We’re thinking we may have someone come in and paint it. We’re also going to add some brick planters and clean up the front of it so it’ll be a nice place for people to come and view this piece of artwork.”

Getting the monument raised from the ditch it laid in for the past decade was a harder feat than the Pucheus originally thought.

“We had to being in a 60-ton crane to lift it,” Pucheu said. “To find a company that was willing to come in a cemetery with a heavy piece of equipment that didn’t want to damage other things, that was tough.”

Even with the hurdles that came up along the way, to see the granite artwork standing is something the Pucheus have been looking forward to bringing back for the people of Biloxi to enjoy.

“It’s totally worth it,” he said. “God willing, it’ll be standing for a long time.”

Alyssa Newton is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a background in television, radio and print. She’s originally from Dothan, Alabama and has a journalism degree from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Her passion lies in storytelling, news, sports and a strong espresso.