Roamin’ Catholic sites of interest New Orleans & Mississippi
As the summer ends, the Clarion Herald offers suggestions of Catholic pilgrimage sites in New Orleans and neighboring Mississippi that “Roamin’” Catholics might enjoy visiting. In a later issue of the Clarion Herald, Catholic sites of interest throughout Louisiana will be featured.
THE CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF ST. LOUIS IX, KING OF FRANCE, 615 Père Antoine Alley, New Orleans. 525-9585.
The nation’s oldest, continuously operatinNg cathedral, St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is the historic epicenter of the city’s Catholic culture.
Archaeologists working in the cathedral’s garden concluded that New Orleanians have worshipped here since the city’s 1718 founding. Today’s church combines the second church of St. Louis, dedicated in 1793 (following the 1788 Good Friday fire), and the reconstructed cathedral dedicated in 1851. Pope Paul VI named the cathedral a minor basilica in 1964.
It houses the archbishop’s chair (cathedra), beautiful artwork, architecture, the Jubilee Year of Mercy Holy Door and the Venerable Mother Henriette Delille prayer room (she worshipped here). St. John Paul II prayed here during his 1987 apostolic visit.
Cathedral hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Masses: weekdays 12:05 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., Sunday 9 and 11 a.m.
Web site: www.stlouiscathedral.org
NATIONAL SHRINE OF BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS, 919 Josephine St., New Orleans. 525-2495.
Francis Seelos. Who is he? A Redemptorist priest, born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1819, who came to the United States in 1843. In December 1844, he was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland. As a Redemptorist, he ministered as a parish priest, formation director and preacher of parish missions. He came to New Orleans in 1866 and served the people of St. Mary’s Assumption Church, especially the poor and the most abandoned. He died of yellow fever in 1867. In that short time, he left his mark of holiness on the city. Today, the Blessed Seelos Shrine continues his legacy of extending God’s mercy and healing to all. People who visit the shrine experience the peace and healing that still linger around this “Cheerful Ascetic.”
The Blessed Seelos Museum has a Blessed Seelos relic, a bronze statue of him and other items of interest.
Shrine and gift shop hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Sunday (shrine only before 10:30 a.m. parish Mass). www.seelos.org.
DIVINE MERCY, 4337 Sal Lentini Pkwy., Kenner. 466-5016.
The parish was founded in 2009 when neighboring St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Nativity of Our Lord parishes merged. The cruciform-shaped church was dedicated in 2013 and features traditional and modern elements including stained glass of the 12 apostles (excluding St. Jude Thaddeus, but including St. Paul) donated from St. Joan of Arc Mission in Pennsylvania; and stained glass depicting the Divine Mercy Jesus, a baptism window of the Holy Spirit dove, and a Eucharist window with a chalice and host. A relic of St. Faustina (to whom the Divine Mercy devotion was revealed) is buried under the altar. There are icons of Our Lady of Perpetual Help showing Mary holding Jesus, and the Archangels Michael and Gabriel showing the child Jesus the instruments of his passion; and statues of St. Anthony, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary Our Lady of Grace, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Jude Thaddeus, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Therese of Lisieux from both merged parishes. Mosaic stations of the cross came from the closed St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church.
A digital church tour is offered at www.divinemercyparish.org under ‘About’ menu; guided tours are also available by appointment. Church hours: Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday from 8-8:30 a.m. and 3-8 p.m.; and Sunday 8 a.m.-noon and 5:30-7:30 p.m.
NATIONAL VOTIVE SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR, 2701 State St., Uptown New Orleans. 975-9627.
The National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is the center of devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor (Our Lady of Quick Help). Since 1727, long before her statue (now situated in a central niche over the altar) arrived in 1810 and was enshrined in the Ursuline Convent Chapel in the French Quarter, prayers for deliverance from wars, fire, pestilence, disease, storms, despair and hopelessness were made to Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
In 1815, in gratitude for the miracle of America’s victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the Ursulines and Bishop Louis Du Bourg made a promise to celebrate an annual Mass of Thanksgiving on Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s feast, Jan. 8. The tradition was observed for the 200th time in 2015.
In 1895, the statue, gilded in gold, was crowned by Decree of Pope Leo XIII; and, in 1928, the Holy See approved and confirmed the naming of Our Lady of Prompt Succor as the principal patroness of New Orleans and Louisiana.
Masses: daily at 5 p.m.; 11:30 a.m. Saturday perpetual novena; 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Shrine hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mass weekdays; 45 minutes before Saturday and Sunday Masses. www.shrineofourladyofpromptsuccor.com.
ST. ANN, 3601 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie. 455-7071.
On Aug. 13, 1902, a Confraternity of St. Ann of New Orleans was established and a St. Ann shrine was erected on St. Philip Street. In 1920, it moved to a larger site on Ursulines and North Johnson streets. When St. Ann in New Orleans closed, a new shrine relocated to Transcontinental Drive in Metairie. Behind the sanctuary, the shrine is a grotto-like structure with holy stairs that people ascend on their knees while praying the Stations of the Cross. The Stations are depicted in stained glass at the top of the stairs. The window facing north depicts St. Joachim and St. Ann (whose feast day is celebrated July 26, and annual parish novena held July 18-26). The main window depicts the Holy Trinity. These windows are a memorial to the Louisiana Oyster Industry, the fishermen and their families, who donated to their cost.
Hours: weekdays 9 a.m-3 p.m.; 10-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and for Mass 4 p.m. Saturday; 9:30, 11 a.m., 5 p.m. Sunday.
ST. JOSEPH ABBEY, 75376 River Road (off Hwy. 25), St. Benedict, Louisiana. (985) 892-1800.
In 1889, Benedictine monks were invited to Louisiana by New Orleans Archbishop Francis Janssens to establish a monastery to operate a seminary for an indigenous clergy.
Originally near Ponchatoula, the monastic community moved to its current St. Tammany Parish location in 1902.
By the late 1920s, the growth of the abbey and seminary prompted construction of a larger church, which was completed in 1932.
The treasured artwork at St. Joseph Abbey was painted by Dutch Benedictine monk Dom Gregory de Wit. The paintings, which took a decade to complete, remain well-preserved and run from ﬂoor to ceiling in the monastic refectory and Abbey Church. The church and refectory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the past century, St. Joseph Abbey has become an enduring presence in the Gulf South, educating civic and religious leaders, and founding and staffing parishes in New Orleans and the Northshore. Visitors benefit from the serene environment the monastic community established.
The Abbey was inundated with water in March 2016 when the Bogue Falaya River overflowed its banks, causing $30 million in damage. Visit helptheabbey.com to donate to its recovery.
Open to public: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mass: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m., 11:15 a.m.; Sundays 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m.; vespers 5:30 p.m. 7 days a week.
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHURCH (Home of St. Jude Shrine), 411 North Rampart St., New Orleans. 525-1551.
In 1826, the city of New Orleans was plagued with yellow fever and thousands died. During this time, the Mortuary Chapel was built on North Rampart and hundreds daily passed through its doors to receive a blessing before burial in St. Louis Cemeteries behind the chapel.
The chapel became a sanctuary during the Civil War. In the early 1870s, it became known as St. Anthony’s Italian Church to cater to Italian immigrants. Archbishop Chapelle invited the Dominicans to staff the church. In 1918, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrived from San Antonio, Texas, to staff the church, which became known as Our Lady of Guadalupe with the thought that many Spanish-speaking Catholics would be arriving. In 1935, Father Jules Bornes, pastor, had a great devotion to St. Jude, saint of the impossible, and began St. Jude Novenas that continue today, four times a year. One of the world’s largest statues of St. Jude – at 17 feet – is here, from St. Jude Hospital in Kenner.
The parish reaches the homeless and poor who are fed daily at St. Jude Community Center and is known for hospitality and lively liturgies, with a Spanish Mass serving the growing Spanish-speaking population.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Masses: weekdays 7 a.m., noon; Saturday: 7 a.m., Vigil 4 p.m.; Sunday: 7:30, 9:30, 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. Spanish Mass, 6 p.m. www.judeshrine.com.
OLD URSULINE CONVENT, 1100 Chartres at Ursuline streets, New Orleans French Quarter. 503-0361. (St. Mary’s Church is attached to the convent and was built in 1845.)
The Ursuline Sisters arrived in New Orleans from France in 1727 and founded a school and orphanage for girls while nursing the poor.
According to the St. Louis Cathedral web site (stlouiscathedral.org, under Convent Museum), the convent was completed in 1752-53, making it the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. It is French Colonial style with brick-between-post construction covered by white plaster and has 12 bays, two floors and three dormers in an attic level. Its windows and doors are positioned parallel to provide cross ventilation during the summer.
It has been a convent for the Ursuline nuns, a school, an archbishop’s residence, the archdiocesan central office, a meeting place for the Louisiana Legislature and a residence for priests serving mainly the Italian community. With the St. Louis Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church, it forms the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and features changing exhibits. The convent was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 general, $6 students. Group tours are available.
ST. ANN CATHOLIC CHURCH (Holy Infant of Good Health Shrine), 5858 Lower Bay Road, Clermont Harbor. (228) 467-5128. holyinfantofgoodhealthinmississippi.com.
On Feb. 15, 1997, the first chapel in Mississippi honoring the Holy Infant of Good Health was dedicated at St. Ann Church, later to be decreed a diocesan shrine with a traveling pilgrim statue for the United States housed here.
The devotion to the Holy Infant of Good Health represents the mystery of the infancy and childhood of Jesus. In 1939, God became present in a small wooden image of the Holy Infant Jesus venerated at Rosa Maria Guadalupe “Lupita” Calderon's home in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. (In 1970, Calderon and Estela Barreda founded the Missionaries of the Holy Infant Jesus of Good Health religious order in Morelia.)
On April 21, 1942, the title “Holy Infant of Good Health” (Santo Nino de la Salud) was given to this infant Jesus image due to recoveries for the physical and spiritual needs of the faithful. In 1944, with ecclesiastical permission, the statue was crowned. The image today is adorned with a royal mantle, a crown of precious stone, a golden scepter.
In 1957, the archbishop of Morelia promoted the cause of public veneration and transferred the Holy Infant statue from Lupita’s home to the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in a solemn procession. A church was dedicated in 1961 to the Holy Infant of Good Health. A copy of the image was presented to His Holiness Pope John XXIII on Jan. 5, 1959.
Margot James brought the devotion to the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, area. The devotion was subsequently granted a plenary indulgence to pilgrims who visit the shrine. The Holy Infant’s Feast Day is April 21.
Masses: Saturday 4 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:30 a.m.; Wednesday 6:30 p.m. Daily eucharistic adoration 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Holy Infant Chapel.
ST. MICHAEL, 177 First St. (Beach Blvd), Biloxi; (228) 435-5578; http://www.stmichaelchurchbiloxi.com.
The “Fisherman’s Church,” as St. Michael’s is known, has served Biloxi’s Point since 1907. This unique cylindrical church with a scalloped shell roof is a testament to devout Catholic maritime families, withstanding a 28-foot tidal surge and 200 mph winds in hurricanes Camille in August 1969 and Katrina in August 2005. Its annual "Blessing of the Fleet" kicks off the shrimp season in late spring.
The inspiring interior of St. Michael's main altar – two and a half tons quarried in the Holy Land – has a bronzed crucifix suspended above it. The stained glass windows depict the 12 apostles gathering their catch. Plans are underway to restore the church.
ST. MARY BASILICA, 107 South Union St., Natchez (601) 445-5616. stmarybasilica.org.
The basilica is the original seat of the vibrant Catholic Diocese of Jackson. Recognized as an architectural masterpiece among Catholic churches in the South, construction began on this Greek-Revival church in 1842 as a cathedral in the newly established Diocese of Natchez. St. Mary retained this status until 1977 when it became a minor basilica after the diocesan seat moved to Jackson.
St. Mary’s shares a city block with the original Spanish burial ground for the community. Twelve of the 16 stained-glass windows, designed by Tyroler Glassmalerie of Innsbruck, Austria, were installed from 1884-93. The remaining four were designed by Emil Frei of St. Louis, Missouri, and installed in 1961.
The church has three marble altars, a Communion rail, episcopal chair and screens made of Italian Carrara marble in the Gothic style. Two side altars were installed in 1903, and the main altar in 1930. A new oak altar of celebration and pulpit were installed in 1991.
Visitors can tour the bishop’s prayer garden, said to be home to the first shrine of the Immaculate Conception in America. Historians believe it was placed there in 1842, the same year the rectory was built. The rectory houses portraits of the diocese’s earliest bishops and many artifacts. The parish’s archive committee maintains its own history website, makes visits to other sites of interest in the area and gives tours when needed.
Mass times: Saturday Vigil 4 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.; Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. St. Mary Basilica sanctuary is open daily from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. for self-guided tours or by appointment for a guided tour or to see the garden and rectory.
HOLY FAMILY PARISH, 16 Orange Ave., Natchez. (601) 445-5700. http://www.josephites.org/parish/ms/hf/
One of the oldest churches, it was established in 1894 for African-Americans as a school and church and served by the Josephites since 1899. The parish was the epicenter for Civil Rights activities in Natchez. In the 1960s, Josephite Father William Morrissey hosted National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meetings, allowed integrated youth gatherings and local organizations to educate black adults so they could vote. This history helped the parish secure a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for a major renovation, completed in 2015.
Masses: Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.; Tuesday, Friday, 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday 6:30 a.m. in the convent.
ST. JOSEPH CHURCH, 411 Coffee St., Port Gibson. (601) 437-5790.
The church is one of the oldest in the state built and dedicated during the Civil War, a must-see stop off the Natchez Trace. It has a sanctuary of cobalt blue windows, carved beam supports and altar rail. The hand-carved, walnut woodwork was done by parishioner Daniel Foley and his 18-year-old son in 1862. It includes panels of a sacrificial lamb, a pelican feeding its young (photo above) and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Bishop William Henry Elder dedicated the structure in 1863.
Masses: Saturday 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.; Tuesday, Thursday 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday 8 a.m.
Also of note nearby in Vicksburg is St. Paul’s Church, a Gothic church dedicated Oct. 14, 1849, at Crawford and Walnut streets. A tornado in 1953 severely damaged the original church, and it was demolished. The cornerstone for the present St. Paul's was laid in 1956. www.stpaulvicksburg.org; and St. Mary Church, 1512 Main St., Vicksburg, founded in 1906 thanks to a sizeable donation from St. Katharine Drexel and the work of the Society of the Divine Word. The present church was completed in 1923. Parishioners are fond of telling the legend of Claude Newman, a 1940s death-row inmate who claimed to have a vision of a beautiful woman who taught him about the Catholic church. Divine Word Father Robert O’Leary was convinced of the story when Newman reminded him of a promise he had made to the virgin when he was a soldier during World War II. stmaryvicksburg.org.