The origins of some South Louisiana's deepest traditions may have been lost in time, or perhaps in the revelry. But rituals of faith still play a large role in how we celebrate, what we eat and when we rest. As your group explores this region's rich culture and history, it's worth a visit to many of its oldest churches and cathedrals.
The breathtaking architecture of these churches have made these structures the centerpieces of their communities, and within their walls are stories, divinity and lore.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Lafayette
The founding church of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, its Romanesque Revival-inspired architecture was completed in 1918. The church's cemetery is the oldest in Lafayette. What also came with the land is one of the largest live oak trees in the United States, at 500 years old. To learn more about guided tours, future services and the church's gift shop, visit www.lafayettetravel.com.
Charlene Richard, the "Little Cajun Saint," Richard
About 35 minutes from the heart of Lafayette is the resting place of the 12-year-old girl who is believed to have performed miracles. Charlene Richard died from leukemia in rural Acadia Parish in 1959. But stories of her prayers to heal others in the weeks leading up to her death have made her an internationally renowned "folk saint." Though not officially canonized, she is recognized by local clergy as the "Little Cajun Saint." Learn more about Richard's story and legacy at www.louisianafolklife.org.
Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau
In 1821, a large plot of land in St. Landry Parish was donated by a prominent woman to two nuns, who founded the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Though Union troops occupied the small farming community, the academy was spared during the Civil War and is known to be a place of a miracle dating back 150 years. Berchmans Academy, named after the saint who is believed to have healed a dying woman at the girls' school, was built in 2006. Learn more about the town of Grand Coteau at www.grandcoteau.org.
St. Martin de Tours, St. Martinville
On the banks of the Bayou Teche is one of Louisiana's oldest Catholic churches, Saint Martin de Tours. The church was founded in 1765 and was placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1972. St. Martinville is one of the first locations exiled Acadians arrived and settled, making this church the "Mother Church of the Acadians." Learn more about Saint Martin de Tours at www.lafayettetravel.com.
St. Peter Roman Catholic Church, Carencro
Built in 1904, this picturesque church faces out into Carencro's main drag lined with local shops and restaurants. Pieces of the church were designed, carved and built in Europe, including the main altar. Inspired by Baroque architecture, the hand-carved alter was brought from Belgium to the U.S. to be on display in the Chicago World Exposition in 1893. Learn more about the church at www.sprcc.org.
Courtesy of Lafayette Travel.
Photo Courtesy of Lafayette Travel.