Monday, October 3, 2016

St. Louis Cathedral - New Orleans, LA (The Picturesque Church)

615 Pere Antoine Alley
New Orleans, LA 70116

            Without a doubt, the single most widely seen building in New Orleans is the St. Louis Cathedral. Well, unless you are a member of the Who-Dat Nation, then your answer would be the Superdome! One glimpse of this beautiful church and you automatically know what city you are looking at. If standing on the roof of the cathedral was possible, one would have an incredible view. Without having to move a muscle, you could see the Cabildo, Presbytere, Jackson Square, Jackson Monument, the Mississippi River, Muriel's, the Place d'Armes Hotel and the Pontalba Building! With the French Quarter as the heart of New Orleans, the St. Louis Cathedral would serve as the blood, spreading its Catholic heritage throughout every facet of the neighborhood. With any settlement, the first structure, other than the basic homes, is normally a church. As old as the city itself, so are the roots of the Cathedral.

            Dating back as far as the founding of New Orleans in 1718, a crude shack stood which served as a place of worship for the local Roman Catholics. As the grid system that would eventually become the French Quarter began to take shape, the Place d'Armes rose as the settlement's gathering place; an open area for locals to congregate. As the settled area grew, so did the population and the need for a bigger church. French engineer, Adrien De Pauger, was served with the daunting task of building a bigger and better place of worship. Before the church could be complete, De Pauger passed away on June 21, 1726. His one wish was to be buried within the church; a wish which was surprisingly granted. Even prior to his death, the burial of notable individuals on the church grounds had taken place. To date, there are numerous members of the church buried under the current building. Some of these names are as follows:
                       1721 - M. Alias (Helias), Director of the Law concessions.
                       1723 - M. Sauvoy, Royal Commissary.
                       1726 - M. Pauger, Knight of St. Louis, Chief Engineer.
                       1730 - M. de Ia Chaise, Commissary Royal and Director of the Company.
                       1734 - Rev. F. Raphael, Superior of the Capuchins.
                       1737 - Rev. F. Phillippe, his successor.
                       1745 - Madame Noyant, and 1751, her husband, Lieutenant of the King.
                       1750 - Rev. F. Charles, Superior of the Capuchins.
                       1751 - Rev. F. Matthias, parish priest.
                       1752 - M. Chauvin, Trustee in active service.
                       1752 - M. Michel, Commissary of the Navy and acting Intendant.
            By 1727, De Pauger's original plans came to fruition and a larger brick and timber church was constructed.  The church would serve the city well for several decades, uniting the elites in marriage,
Drawing of the previous church in the 1840's.
honoring the poorest at death and christening the one-day criminals of society. Of course, all walks of life were treated equal within these walls. I was just proving a point to show that such a wide array of individuals were honored here.

            As I have mentioned several times, the infamous Great Fire of 1788 would spare a select few structures in the entire city. The church was not the subject of any divine intervention in this case, as it equally fell to the demise of the raging inferno, along with the other near-nine hundred buildings. Reconstruction was slow, as was the rest of the city. It would not be for another five years until the third church would be complete on Christmas Eve of 1794. Additionally, it would also now be deemed a Cathedral by the first bishop, Don Luis Ignacio Maria de Pefialver y Cardenas of Havana.
            By the nineteenth century, expansion and renovations were needed. In 1819 New Orleans clockmaker, Jean Delachaux, was authorized by the church to install a decorative clock on the facade of the Cathedral. Additionally, a central tower was added, resembling the present-day Cathedral. The largest remodeling was to come around the 1840's when much of the structure was to be re-designed. Despite the care that the workmen took, the delicate structure could not take the shifting and forceful redesign, as much of the original Cathedral
Beautiful interior of the St. Louis Cathedral.
collapsed, including the fairly new tower. Due to this travesty, by 1850, an entirely new Cathedral was constructed. The only part that was able to be reused was the large bell from the main tower.

            For years to come, the St. Louis Cathedral would finally get the respect it deserved, serving the city of New Orleans until the present-day. As beautiful as the exterior is, the interior is simply incredible, with extremely ornate woodwork and statues. Only a few damages would occur to the Cathedral over the next century or so due to several dangerous hurricanes. Today, the Cathedral continues to serve as the center of the French Quarter, often being the focal point of many tours, photo opportunities and artwork. As I type this right now, I look above my mantel at a beautiful giclee of the Cathedral by famed New Orleans artist James Hussey titled “Cafe in the Vieux Carre.” Sorry for the cheap plug, but he is an incredible artist and his work should be checked out!
            Many people do not often think of many churches as being haunted. After all, shouldn't a church be the most blessed place in the community? Well if you have read my first book “Paranormal Uncensored”, you will know that religious provocation has little or no effect on residual and
Picturesque rear view of the cathedral at night.
Photo courtesy of
intelligent hauntings. Oh darn, just can't help with the cheap plugs tonight! The prime haunting of the grand Cathedral is Father Antonio de Sedella, more commonly known as Father Père Antoine. He is one of the many bodies that are buried around the alter area, as marble slabs mark each burial. He has often been seen wandering the alleyway between the Cathedral and the Presbytere. Note that the opposite alleyway is the honorably mentioned Pirate's Alley. He is normally seen in a long dark robe wandering the area.

            On a visit to New Orleans in the mid-1990's, I remember taking a picture down this alley on a dark and quiet night. The picture was randomly taken of one of the side entrance doors to the Cathedral where the apparition had been reportedly seen. Once I developed my film, I was amazed to see the transparent image of an elderly man with a long white beard. The image was barely visible but it was very detailed. I have no idea what has happened to that picture as so many years have gone by but it was very interesting and was much more detailed that one of the many matrixing photographs I have viewed over the years. Could this have been the spirit of Father Antoine?

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