Blogging from A to Z: M is for Mortuary Church

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On North Rampart Street in New Orleans, on the outskirts of the French Quarter, stands Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  It’s also known as St. Jude’s, where people go to pray for lost causes, and purportedly has a relic from Jude himself.

mMost local New Orleanians call it the Mortuary Church.

Originally styled St. Anthony of Padua when it was built in 1828, its proximity to St. Louis Cemetery Nos. 1 and 2 made it the ideal location to serve as a mortuary.  During the yellow fever epidemics, the New Orleans government passed a law making it illegal to bury people within the city limits (at that time the cemeteries were outside the city proper).  For a while, the only people allowed in were priests, altar boys, and other funeral attendants. There weren’t even any pews installed when the church was built. By the time Bayou Fire takes place, when St. Anthony’s is Alcide Deveraux’s home parish, that had changed.

Historic_American_Buildings_Survey_Mugnier,_Photographer_Circa_1880_From_the_Koch_Collection_FRONT_ELEVATION_(SOUTHWEST)_-_St._Anthony's_Chapel,_411_North_Ramparti_Street,_New_HABS_LA,36
St. Anthony of Padua, 1880s

Nowadays, the building is completely changed from its original appearance.  The only original piece remaining is the altarpiece featured in the main photo.  The exterior retains the three archways of the original design.

(Interior photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the author.  Historic photo in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.)

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6 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z: M is for Mortuary Church

  1. …passed a law making it illegal to bury people within the city limits
    This reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell. He would say “Our cemeteries were overflowing, so they passed a law that anyone living within a mile of the town could not be buried there. They put up a fence around the cemetery. People were literally dying to get in!”

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle
    #AtoZChallenge 1970’s Billboard Hits

    Liked by 1 person

  2. New Orleans is one of the US cities on my bucket list. And now I can put St.Jude’s church on my list of places to see. Historical facts and stories make building come alive for me.

    Like

    1. I am very much the same way; knowing the history of a place makes it just a little more magical. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, and I hope you are able to visit there soon. Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

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