If you want to orient yourself when in the French Quarter, St. Louis Cathedral is about as good a landmark as any. Reportedly, the longest continually operating cathedral in the United States it is the crowning jewel in a catholic city brimming with churches. Set on Jackson Square, it has a very regal quality to it and the interior is welcoming in its simplistic beauty.
Magnificent St. Louis Cathedral presides over Jackson Square as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States. Established as a place of worship in 1716, the structure was completed on this site in 1727 then destroyed by fire in 1788.
A generous benefactor, Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, enabled the church to be rebuilt and it reopened its doors in 1794. A sketch shows that it was smaller in scale than the church you see today and had three rounded towers, rather than outright spires.
The present-day church was built and enlarged over the Spanish foundations in 1851. This massive cathedral is crowned with three dramatic spires which point heavenward and bears a clock beneath its tallest spire.
Inside, an atmosphere of sanctity envelopes the visitor. At the front of the sanctuary, a gilded work entitled Sacrifice of the Lamb of God hangs over the altar; throughout the sanctuary statues of the saints peer down from their pedestals (pics # 2 & 3)
Flags representing the countries once dominant in New Orleans hang high overhead on the right side; you'll see the Papal flag, the coat of arms of the Basilica and coat of arms of the dioceses of the Metropolitan Province of New Orleans...creating a dramatic effect!
Like most of the samples from the period - residential, religious and everything in between - the Saint Louis Cathedral stands today as a representation of the Greek Revival Style. A widely popular style used throughout America from about 1820 to the 1860s, which based its design on ancient Greek architectural forms. The use of porches and porticos supported by stately columns was reminiscent of Greek temples -- much like you would see in photos of Greek monuments still in existence. Often seen in banks, courthouses and other public buildings as well as houses, the style became known as the National Style during its period of greatest popularity.
Located in the French Quarter's Jackson Square area in New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Louisiana. Built in 1794, the cathedral has had a long and eventful history, including a dynamite bombing in 1909, hurrican damage in 1915, a visit from the late Pope John Paul II in 1987, and relatively minor damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The church holds the bones of eight New Orleans bishops. It's really rather beautiful--like something out of a fairy tale. The building is also very well air-conditioned, a boon for the sultry summer-month churchgoers.
Perhaps the most recognized landmark in New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral is the centerpiece of Jackson Square. This cathedral is unique as a focal point of an ultra-Catholic city, as its interior is somewhat sparsely decorated. But in spite of that, it does have a great deal of historical significance: Andrew Jackson supposedly laid down his sword on the altar in thanks for his victory in the battle of New Orleans. It is also the oldest continually operating cathedral in the US. Pope John Paul II also has made a visit here. The cathedral is open to visitors.
The first church on this site was built in 1727, but was destroyed by fire in 1788. The current church was completed in 1794 but was heavily remodeled in the 1800s. St. Anthony’s Garden was created in 1831, and it's white marble obelisk was set over the buried site of 19 French sailors who perished of yellow fever in Mexican waters.
It was first called the Cathedral of Saint Louis, King of France when it was built in 1720. Flanked by Cabildo and Presbytere, it is situated in the Jackson Square facing the Mississippi River. Jackson Square was then known as Plaza d’Armas and was a place where military parades were occasionally held before it became a market.
This is located in the French Quarter close to Jackson Square. Its simplicity and austerity are beautiful, a necessary counterpoint to the style of the French Quarter residences. This is actually the oldest cathedral in the US!
The website for the cathedral describes it as "A Minor Basilica"
From the river, the Saint Louis Cathedral (or the Cathedral of Saint Louis King of France) dominates the skyline of New Orleans. I did not realize King Louis IX was a saint, but I'm not really up on my Catholic saints. Apparently the folks here in New Orleans felt that he was a saint, and dedicated this church to him in 1727.
A Parish was established in 1720 in New Orleans, Louisiana and this site was designated for a church in the city plan of the Engineer-in-Chief of Louisiana, LeBlond de la Tour. This church was built of "brick between posts" (bnquete entre poteaux) construction. The designer of the first church, Adrien De Pauger died in 1726 before the church was finished and requested to be buried underneath of it. Other notables are also buried under the church including the remains of eight New Orleans bishops.
It was rebuilt the first time after the great fire of 1788. The third church on this site with its tapering, slate-covered triple towers was built from plans drawn in 1849 by French-born architect Jacques N. B. de Pouilly.
We did not get to go inside the church - we wanted to attend one of the free Christmas concerts, but were too tired, or it was too cold. I understand that the interior has been restored extensively and is not original. It looks like most of the stained glass windows depict the life of St. Louis.
According to one review: Here he receives a blessing from St Blanche, his mother; there he marries. He builds a chapel, receives the crown of France, and departs for his first crusade across a wooden plank. Further on he visits a leper with lesions of hollow glass, and in the great lunette over the high altar Louis announces the Seventh Crusade
Free tours available daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
At the heart of Jackson Square, you'll find this French Provincial style cathedral with a baroque altar and frescoed ceiling. Open to the public. Regular masses are conducted throughout the week, so check before you walk in to take pictures!
Saint Louis Cathedral, situated at the base of Jackson Park, is the focal point of The French Quarter. This very Catholic city has had a church at this location since 1727 making this the oldest continually active Roman Catholic cathedral in America. The original building burnt down in the fire of 1788. Another was built in 1794 but collapsed after a renovation project in 1849. The current building dates to 1851. The cathedral is built of wood as stone is pretty scarce in the Mississippi delta. The windows are built much smaller than other European churches in order to weather the occasional hurricane. But the overall effect is still lovely, making this a must see while you're in New Orleans.
The Cathedral is open to visitors from 7 am to 5 pm and is well worth the visit. As you step from the busy street life on Jackson to the quiet interior of the church you'll feel yourself transported to an alternate reality, one of the many you can experience in the French Quarter.
If you visit Saint Louis Cathedral in the morning, when all the rest of the French Quarter is still nursing their hangovers, you'll find the beautiful interior of the church quiet and contemplative. Your eyes will be delighted by the ornate Catholic iconography that surrounds you and your ears will welcome the silence that can be difficult to find outside. Sitting in the pews will afford you time to reflect on your experiences so far and plan those ahead.
I find Catholic churches to be great places for self reflection. There is something about the organic chaos of saints and symbols and the 1700 year history that resonates with me and deepens my thought. Not an adherent of any church, I still find great solace in those moments when I contemplate my life, give thanks and ask for guidance from the great mystery.