New Orleans - Day 5 - Cemetery Tour

by Kevin October. 20, 2008 8450 views

Today we took a tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1…

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest and most famous Catholic cemetery in New Orleans. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city's older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788.

It is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River, on the north side of Basin Street, one block beyond the inland border of the French Quarter. It borders the Iberville housing project that was built over what was formerly Storyville. It has been in continuous use since its foundation. Due to crime risks, it is inadvisable for individual tourists to visit the cemetery on their own, but it can be safely visited with tour groups. The nonprofit group Save Our Cemeteries and various commercial businesses offer tours for a fee.

Famous New Orleanians buried in St. Louis #1 include Etienne de Boré - wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans, Homer Plessy - the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights, and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial - the first African-American Mayor of New Orleans.

The renown Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is believed to be interred in the Glapion family crypt. Other notable New Orleanians here include Bernard de Marigny - the French-Creole playboy who brought the game of craps to the United States, Barthelemy Lafon - the architect and surveyor who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte's pirates, and Paul Morphy, one of the earliest world champions of chess.

A man (not in our tour group) asking for aid from Marie Laveau.

Some say that if you mark an X on her grave and knock three times, she will grant you a wish. Others mark three X's or leave three items as an offering for Marie's aid.

Tombstone of folks born in the 1700s

Another Voodoo king/queen

1739 was the earliest date I found…

The St. Jude Shrine in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel is a Roman Catholic church located on Rampart Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. The church was built in 1826 as the “Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua” (a.k.a. the Mortuary Chapel) to serve as a burial church for victims of yellow fever. It was erected close to St. Louis Cemeteries #1 and #2, the primary Catholic cemeteries at the time (St. Louis Cemetery #1 is located directly behind the church, right across Basin Street).

The church building is the oldest surviving church building in New Orleans (e.g. all the older churches have since been rebuilt). Since 1918, the church has been named Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel and has been staffed by the Oblates of Mary.

In the 1930's, parishioners praying to Saint Jude had their prayers answered, which resulted in a a tradition of regular novenas to Saint Jude (that continues today) and the erection of a shrine to Saint Jude (which is still maintained today).

The St. Jude Shrine is located in the area to the left of the altar, and it includes a relic of St. Jude.

The church has hosted a series of “jazz” Masses.

Statue of St. Expedite

Supposedly, the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe received a big shipment of assorted saint statues. Only one didn't have a proper label on the case identifying the saint whose statue was contained within. But the crate did have an “Expedite” label on it, so the locals decided that must be the saint's name.

A century and a half later, according to the story, they found out there was no saint called Expedite. However, a little research turned up the obscure St. Expeditus, whose status as a possible Armenian martyr gave the Expedite myth legitimacy.

He is unofficial because the Roman Catholic Church doesn't know what to do about St. Expedite. He's too pagan to be a proper saint, and too popular for his statues to be simply tossed out the door.

A sign outside the chapel.

The House of the Rising Sun

A former house of ill repute that served as inspiration for The Animals. The song tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans.

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