If any city in the United States of America has the reputation of being the ‘church city’ it would certainly be New Orleans. Since time immemorial, churches have not only been places of worship but a safe haven for people to remember their root, culture and the kinship and feeling of community. Every one of these mindfully structured buildings is actually a time capsule that lets you enter a world; you can only imagine experiencing outside.
So, here are some of those churches and cathedrals which will not only take your breath away for their physical magnificence but also entice you with its legacy and its place in the hearts of the locals.
St. Louis Cathedral
The heart of the hearts in New Orleans is the St. Louis Cathedral. Every marriage or burial will be performed in this very cathedral. The building of the church was constructed in 1849 and the interior with its stained glass, richly-detailed frescoes and the fenced garden that surround the cathedral building provides for a serene environment.
The cathedral is well-known for its soothing music, free concerts that are performed by classical gospel performers. This is a cathedral that can be trusted to bring the best kind of street entertainment in the vicinity as most wedding marches end up with the locals joining in the raucous and wholeheartedly enjoying the exuberance of the blushing bride and party.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
The white stucco exterior is no clue for the treasures hidden inside. The place has been in use for religious purposes since 1727, and convent, which is beside the church, was constructed in the year 1734.
The stainless steel glass, the white marble columns, the beautiful carvings on the ceiling and the walls, the paintings, trim work and much more are the reasons you will visit this 18th-century wonder. During the 19th and 20th century, St. Mary’s was home to Sicilian immigrants, who then started their new lives at the French Quarter and it was known as ‘St. Mary’s Italian Church’. Today, all the people from the bygone era are gone and what is left is the unchanging reverence of the followers. As it is not one of the Parish churches with regular hours, the better way of trying to get to the inside of the church is on Ursuline Convent tours.
St. Augustine Catholic Church
St. Augustine resides just a few blocks from the French Quarters I was babbling about till now. St. Augustine has a significant relation with people of color who, after generations of transgression, have found their place as the free ‘Creoles of color’. Not only that, the architecture of the building will remind you of the typical pre-civil war antebellum Tremé. It also maintains an archive showcasing the life at Tremé.
St. Patrick’s has a different history than the rest of the options that I have mentioned here until now. This church, unlike the rest of the above, has lived through the demographic shifts and has survived the alterations of commercial well-being of the people in the neighborhood. The Gothic look of the towers, the arched ceiling and the skyward dome that looks magnificent from the inside as well as the beautiful murals are all reasons for you to discover this splendid addition to architecture and culture from the 19th century.
The blog cannot be finished without a mention of the Touro Synagogue as Jews were one of the early settlers in New Orleans. The Jews and the Protestants were the groups of people who used to circumspect before practicing their faith in a majorly-Catholic environment. Judah Touro, a descendant of an influential Rhode Island family was the benefactor of the congregation when it took his name. The architecture has a refreshing Byzantine-influenced look, though the New Orleans tenor is evident in its ‘Jazz Fest Shabbat’.