St. Louis Cathedral

Now, where was I?

Oh, right. I was recovering from a 5-day Mardi Gras bender. Never fear, though. The affair was not all booze, Bourbon Street and...well, you get the idea. The Project actually found time to visit New Orleans' famed St. Louis Cathedral, a Greek revival structure that majestically dominates Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter.

(Before I go any further, let me note that I did not take any photos. I didn't want to risk taking the Project's camera to Mardi Gras. Underwhelming though it may be, it is our only means of operation. Were something to happen to it, we'd be out of commission. And then what would you do with yourselves? These pictures, for the record, come from Wikipedia.)

St. Louis provides an interesting case study in the "wrath of God," since it's been rebuilt at least three times, once due to fire and once to due to hurricane. Nevertheless, it has the unique distinction of being the oldest, continually active cathedral in the United States. Yes, that's correct. Parts of this building are 217 years old. Or so says the nice cantor who directed mass.

What wasn't rebuilt was remodeled numerous times. In the 1850s the original Spanish-style exterior was refitted with the current Greek revival facade. Inside, you get a columned, non-cruciform Baroque design that's highlighted by great mural around the sanctuary and on the ceiling, beautiful pictorial stained-glass windows, and an impressive (and functional) organ.

Of particular interest is the fact that St. Louis has a second gallery on top of the nave, which isn't really seen in Philly churches. (St. John the Baptist has something similar, I believe, but it's a poor imitation.)

The really bizarre thing is the flat arches. Arches almost always have some sort of curvature, whether it's a Gothic point or a Romanesque semi-circle. Baroque uses semi-circles, too, but not here--it's all flat, which is a really strange look, especially since the columns themselves are not overly ornate.

Oh, and the design of the gallery ceilings and arches make for some pretty poor sightlines, too. The side altars, for example, are almost invisible, even if you're sitting in the side aisles.

Alright, enough nitpicking. It's a very lovely church, and if you're ever in New Orleans, be sure to check it out. There's a pirate-themed absinthe bar across the street, too, if you're interested. :)

The Project approves.