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Friday, August 28, 2020

St. Louis Cathedral: French Quarter, New Orleans

Not Sponsored: Before I speak about St. Louis Cathedral, I would like to give you a little background information about myself. I'm Catholic. I went to Mater Dolorosa School and Church (I talked about it here in my 2013 blog post ; their website) here in New Orleans, Louisiana. My mom was married there. I was christened there. My First Communion was there. It closed when I was in seventh grade, so I transferred to St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School and Church for eighth grade. It was at St. Francis of Assissi, that I had the sacrament of Confirmation. I then went on to graduate from Ursuline High School. I attended a lot of church when I was young. We would have mass every Wednesday at school, my mom would take me to 4pm Saturday Mass and during the Lenten season we would have The Stations of the Cross every Friday. On top of that we had religion classes and confession during the school week. I was a devout and faithful Catholic. I have to be honest. I haven't been to church in many years. Don't get me wrong. I pray. I help others. My faith is strong. I just lost a lot of trust in the Catholic Church over the years, both internationally, nationally and locally. There were so many sexual abuse cases (and here) systemically throughout the Catholic Church. So many cover-ups. You still hear about cases. It's disheartening. I knew someone who was an altar boy and he is so messed up now, I have to wonder if something happened to him. You can't put all priests in the same basket (as with anyone or anything). There are good and bad apples everywhere. The priests were very nice and helpful when I grew up. I didn't care for the last priest at our church. I never got a good feeling when I looked at him. So I stopped going. There seems to be a different priest now, so I think I'm going to start tuning into the online masses (covid-19) and when things settle back start going to church again. No matter what faith you are, know there are good and bad everywhere. Don't stop praying, believing or have lack of faith. 

St. Louis Cathedral is a gorgeous Catholic Church located in the French Quarter area of New Orleans. People have worshiped there since 1727. Let me give you some highlights. French Engineer, Adrien de Pauger, who designed the streets of the Vieux Carre (French Quarter - He named both Bourbon and Royal Street), drew the original map of New Orleans and also designated the site for the church. A fire destroyed it in 1788. Don Andres Almonester y Roxas (a little bit more about him later) financed the rebuilding of the church. In 1819, a New Orleans clock-maker, Jean Delachaux, purchased a clock and bell for the church from Paris. In 1825, Francisco Zapari (an Italian painter) was employed at a fee of $1855 to decorate the interior of the church and its three alters. In 1829 and organ was imported for the church. In 1844, Baroness Pontalba (blog post), presented a project to construct a two-story arcaded facade in front of the old buildings bordering both sides of the Place d'Armes (French name for Jackson Square). In 1849, there was reconstruction of the church, but this led to a collapse of the bell tower and clock. Damage was as high as $20,000. The architect J. N. B. De Pouilly ( He was a French Architect who also designed St. Augustine Church and tombs in New Orleans Cemeteries) and former workers were dismissed from the project. A new architect was employed and it was completed in 1851. I find all of this fascinating, because as a child I loved looking at the architecture of my church (both inside and out). I thought it was magnificent and was enamored by the details. I constantly thought how something so magnificent was built without modern technology. I really admire architects and engineers. If I was stronger in math, I would've been one (I settled for science). How they create things fascinate me. They're detailed oriented and for the most part perfectionists. I was disheartened when The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France burned. They're still stabilizing the structure. Reconstruction should begin in 2021 and there are hopes of completion in 2024 for the Summer Olympics in Paris (source). I would love to go to the Summer Olympics in Paris :) I would also like to go to Paris, Disneyland. 

French Quarter Tour

Cafe Du Monde | Jackson Square | St Louis Cathedral

The Cabildo | The Presbytre

 

I've always found the outside of St. Louis Cathedral to be so beautiful and regal. It sits right behind Jackson Square. I love the tranquil fountain within the gates of Jackson Square. On the very front of the church, are the United States Flag, Louisiana State Flag and Flag of Vatican City. There's a statue of Saint Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II came to New Orleans and worshiped at St. Louis Cathedral on September 12, 1987. He was made a saint in 2014 .

The beauty of St. Louis Cathedral continues inside. As you enter, your eyes will wander everywhere. From the pews to the flags, church altar, statues of saints, flooring, stained glass windows, breathtaking chandeliers and majestic artwork on the ceiling ... there is so much beauty inside. Did you know the main body of a cathedral is called the Nave? Nave is Latin for ship. A cathedral is symbolically a ship bearing the people of God through the storms of life (source). There's a song called Storm (Craig Armstrong & AR Rahman) that I absolutely adore (also here ->) from the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age. It's such a powerful song. We all have our own personal storms. In 2020, we surely have had our share. Whenever I go through a storm, this song gives me strength. My faith is also strong, coupled with prayer.

 
The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Louis IX (King of France). His name can be found throughout. He was a devout Catholic. He was known as a just king, whether if you were rich or poor. He introduced 'presumption of innocence'. He conducted crusades. Louis was renowned for his charity. Beggars were fed from his table: he ate their leavings; washed their feet; ministered to the wants of lepers, who were generally ostracized; and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals and houses. Below, I will show you the Bible of St. Louis. A copy of it is at St. Louis Cathedral.

The altar, artwork on the ceilings and chandeliers in this church are absolutely gorgeous. I found an interesting read on the architecture of cathedrals and its internal features. It really goes into detail about all aspects (elements) of a church. As you enter a Catholic Church, there is a holy water font or stoup (angels at the entrance of the St. Louis Cathedral below) that holds holy water. I remember before attending mass, dipping my fingertips in the stoup, touching my forehead and making the sign of the cross before walking down the aisle and sitting in a pew. There are different styles.

 
Below is a Lectern / Pulpit, where holy scripture is read. I was often asked to read various scriptures for our school masses. It truly brings back memories. Usually in the back or along side of a church there is a confessional where you tell a priest your sins and he tells you what prayers you need to pray.

 
Below is a font or water basin where baptisms are performed. Here's a picture of an altar.


Usually in the back of the church, way up is an organ. I love, love, love organ music. I have so much respect for anyone that can play an organ. I struggled playing piano, so I can't imagine playing an organ. The music is always so pretty. When I sat through mass, I was always enamored with the stained glass windows in the church. Each always told a story. I love their colors, how intricate their designs are, and also how strong & powerful their messages are.


There is usually a commanding statue of Jesus crucified on the cross in a Catholic Church. It always made me so sad to see. It's a forever reminder how Jesus suffered and died for our sins. It's really hard to do, but when people try to hurt you just say God Bless Them and move on. Don't let your enemies draw you in. Miserable people love conflict. Don't feed that negative energy. There were plaques of former Archbishops of the Catholic Church here in New Orleans in St. Louis Cathedral. I have lived through several Archbishops: Archbishop Philip Matthew Hannan, Francis Bible Schulte, Alfred Clifton Hughes and our current Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond.


In the back of the church is a statue of Saint Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc (b. 1412) was a French peasant girl. She's nicknamed 'The Maid of Orleans' and was canonized a Saint of The Catholic Church in 1920. Her story is a compelling one. She had visions from various saints to drive out the English. She participated in The Hundred Years War (battle between England and France) in the Siege of Orleans. Through various sieges and battles, she was captured and taken prisoner by French nobles who were allies with the English (for money). There was a trial for heresy and a cross-dressing charge. She wore soldiers clothing in prison to deter molestation and rape. She also cut her hair. She was condemned and sentenced to die. Her execution was by burning at the stake (1431). There was a retrial after her death and the appellate court declared her innocent in 1456. Here is a list of Saints and patron Saints. I always found the story of Saints interesting and remember praying to specific Saints in elementary school to solve different issues.

 

I mentioned I wanted to elaborate more about Don Andres Almonester Y Roxas. He was born in Spain and died in New Orleans. He was a Spanish civil servant and philanthropist of New Orleans. He's remembered for his numerous charitable benefactions made to The City of New Orleans. He was a notary, city councilman, cabildo (council), knight, royal standard bearer. Some of his charitable deeds was the funding of a public school in New Orleans, boys school,  a house for the clergy and charity hospital, a chapel for the Ursulines, founded a leper hospital, rebuilt the buildings on both sides of the cathedral and funded the building of St. Louis Cathedral (in which he is buried - see picture below). He is entombed in the floor with one of his two daughters, four-year-old Andrea (source linked above).

 
The Bible of St. Louis (below is a copy) can be found in St. Louis Cathedral. The original can be found in the Cathedral of Toledo in Spain. This bible was made for King Saint Louis IX of France at the request of his mother. Its considered an illuminated manuscript that is decorative and includes miniature illustrations. What a beautiful gift from a mother. Beautifully illustrated. It consisted of several volumes.

 

Below is a canopeum and tintinnabulum in St. Louis Cathedral. These are items of papal significance. The canopeum is a symbolic shield of protection for the Pope during his travels. The canopeum remains open anticipating the Pope's arrival. The tintinnabulum is a small gold bell surrounded by a golden frame crowned with the Papal tiara and keys. If the Pope were to say Mass, the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the procession down the center aisle.
 
I really enjoyed my visit to St. Louis Cathedral. I hadn't been inside since I was a child. It's different seeing it with adult eyes. I thought it was beautiful then, but it's magnificence and intricacies have even more meaning to me now. It wasn't until I started writing this post, that I realized how many details the Catholic church entails. I learned a lot just by looking into things a little further (and there is still so much that I didn't include). I'm really trying to expand my vision, look further into things and not just accept what's on the surface. I want to know more about a person. What was his life or her life like? What is the meaning behind objects and things? If there is anything you would like to share, please do so in my comments section below. GOD BLESS YOU. I also included an informative video below.
 
 
 
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1 comment

clara said...

Thank you for telling me about the history of NOLA. My question is what was their role in Slavery.

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