23 April 2011
St. Roch Cemetery
So, I just found out by watching WYES (one of the PBS stations in New Orleans) that the St. Roch Cemetery is not only the coolest thing in the universe, but also seven (give or take a few) blocks away from me.
St. Roch was the invoked against, among other things, the plague and skin disease.
Here's part of the story:
At the height of the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, a German priest named Rev. Peter Leonard Thevis arrived in New Orleans. Faced with the severity of the yellow fever epidemic, he turned to God invoking the intercession of St. Roch, the patron of good health. He promised that if no one in his parish should die from the fever, he would erect a chapel in honor of the Saint. Amazingly, not one member of Holy Trinity died from yellow fever, either in the epidemic of 1867 or 1878.
In thanks, Rev. Thevis’s conviction was to build not only a chapel as a shrine to St. Roch, but also a mortuary chapel in a last resting place for members of his flock. The cemetery was called the Campo Santo (resting place of the dead). Rev. Thevis traveled to Europe to study the architecture and construction of many beautiful shrines and chapels before building the chapel. The chapel, completed in 1876, was considered a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.
The best part of the cemetery is that in a room inside of it, people leave possessions attributed to their illnesses (ie, prosthetics, crutches, etc.) and crucifixes, rosaries, and such.