Travel along the St. Landry Parish Spiritual Trail for a truly unique and enlightening experience. Where else can you find a craft beer brewery with a statue of Mary, a floating eucharistic procession and the site of a miracle?
Begin your spiritual journey at the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum. This must-see attraction is one of only two locations in the United States dedicated to the story of the "Orphan Train Riders." In the early 19th century, the Sisters of Charity placed orphans from the New York Foundling Hospital with Catholic families in Louisiana and other rural areas in the Midwest. Between 1853 and 1930, more than 200,000 orphaned children were transported to foster homes. At the museum, groups could meet orphan train descendants and understand what life was like for the riders. The Louisiana Orphan Train Society has been dedicated to collecting and preserving those items that tell the history of the movement. Because of this, the museum now boosts a large collection of original documents, clothing and images all on display. Many of the museum's volunteers are also descendants of orphan train riders.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
Your trail continues to the town of Grand Coteau. Here, travelers report an indescribable peacefulness. That sense may have a lot to do with the Shrine of St. John Berchmans, at The Academy of the Sacred Heart. The shrine is the location of a Vatican-recognized miracle, one of the only in the U.S. in which an apparition appeared and where visitors can see the original site where the miracle was performed. While visiting Grand Coteau, don't miss the opportunity to tour St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and the old Jesuit cemeteries on the grounds.
Bayou Teche Brewing.
When groups arrive at their next destination, they might want to stay a while! Bayou Teche Brewing, located in the town of Arnaudville, is an innovative microbrewery with original ales that complement the area's cuisine and way of life. Ingredients native to the region are used for ales such as the Ragin' Cajun, made with locally grown grain. Groups could sample beer in the taproom and hear live music on the porch. The brewery also embraces sustainable living through a native plant landscape, perfect for birdwatching, and a retention pond that captures the byproduct and is used to farm crawfish. Groups could take advantage of their tours—in French or English—to see the statue of Mary overlooking their brewing efforts.
Fête-Dieu du Teche.
In the nearby town of Leonville along the Bayou Teche, witness a floating eucharistic procession—Fête-Dieu du Teche—held every August in honor of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patroness of the Acadian people. Join hundreds by boat and thousands by foot as this unique event recalls rich Acadian history and the journey made by the Acadians 250 years ago.
Whether you're embarking on a spiritual journey, are an admirer of religious architecture or enjoy mouth-watering food, the St. Landry Parish Spiritual Trail has something for everyone!
Written by Mary Hawkins, Communications Manager, St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.
Content and photos courtesy of St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.