St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
St. Louis Cathedral, which is also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is also the oldest cathedral in the United States and was dedicated to Saint Louis (King Louis IX of France). The first church was built on the site in 1718. The third was built in 1789 under the Spanish rule and was raised to cathedral rank in 1793.
The original St. Louis Cathedral was burned in a great fire. It was later rebuilt and expanded upon, finally being completed in 1850. After the reconstruction of the cathedral, little remained of the 1789 structure.
St. Louis Cathedral is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. You can find the cathedral next to Jackson Square, facing the Mississippi River, and between the two historic buildings of the Cabildo and the Presbytère.
History of the Cathedral
Since 1718, when the city of New Orleans was founded, three Roman Catholic Churches have been built on the site. The first church was a simple wooden structure that was built during the early days of the French colony.
In 1725, construction of a larger timber and brick-based church began, and it was completed two years later, in 1727. Unfortunately, the church, along with many other buildings, was destroyed in the Great New Orleans Fire on March 21, 1788.
In 1789, the cornerstone of a new church was laid down, and the building was later completed in 1794. St. Louis Church was elevated to the cathedral rank in 1793 as the See of Diocese of New Orleans. This is one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. A central tower with a bell and a clock were later added in 1819.
The cathedral was later enlarged to meet the needs of a growing congregation. While the reconstruction plans specified that everything be demolished except for the lateral walls and lower portions of existing towers, during the actual reconstruction, it was determined that the sidewalls would have to be torn down as well. In 1850, during the construction, the central tower collapsed, and the architects were replaced. Because these problems, little of the Spanish Colonial structure remained.
In 1909, a dynamite bomb was set off in the cathedral, which blew out the windows and damaged the galleries. The following year, some of the foundation collapsed, and the cathedral had to close down while repairs were made from 1916 to 1917.
The cathedral is open every day from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Visitors can get an impromptu tour from volunteers, and guided tours are available with prior reservations.
In the area…
If you’re in the area and are looking to get out into nature for a bit, spend some time with me at Whiskey Bayou Charters. We’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from New Orleans and the Cathedral!