St Louis Cathedral New Orleans

St Louis Cathedral New Orleans is one of the most recognizable landmarks as well as one of the most popular attractions in the city. The Cathedral, or Basilica of St Louis, as it is often called, is the oldest cathedral in the United States that has continually been in use since its inception. The history of this grand cathedral in New Orleans dates back to the early 1700s. The first church built on the site was constructed in 1718 and over the course of the next 70 years was expanded upon. 1789 saw the third permutation of the church raised to the designation of cathedral. It is named for the only canonized King in France’s history, Louis IX.

Jackson Square
Jackson Square

St Louis Cathedral New Orleans is located in the historic French Quarter, rising up over Jackson Square on Place John Paul II. It is not only vitally important in a functional sense in that the Archdiocese of New Orleans makes its home here, but it is also significant to the city as a tourist attraction—one that gives insight into the decidedly weighty influence European Catholicism has had on the city. St Louis Cathedral tours are very popular amongst visitors of New Orleans. In many ways the Basilica of St Louis is like the face of the city. It faces Jackson Square and regularly offers masses, even during Mardi Gras. When there is a political happening or a national event taking place in the city, you will usually see broadcasters reporting form the site of the cathedral. It is a holy place and a stately construct in a city that is normally known for its partying, music, and food. It is revered not only by resident Catholics for its historical significance and importance in their lives, but also by those making the trip to the city (Catholic or not) who also appreciate its beauty and relevance in the cultural and community development of New Orleans.

St Louis Cathedral Basilica
St Louis Cathedral Basilica

St. Louis Cathedral tours are given everyday for free. You can tour the Basilica of St Louis itself and other features of the grounds like the Ursuline Convent, the oldest building in the entire Mississippi Valley. The guides are very knowledgeable and can relate to you the impressive history of the cathedral. They will explain why the cathedral needed to undergo so many renovations, rebuilds, and expansions, from fires, water table issues, to architectural conventions used to deal with the natural topography of the area. The architecture inside the cathedral is most impressive and many of the sculptures, reliefs, and décor remain in tact after hundreds of years.

St Louis Cathedral
St Louis Cathedral

If you are booking a trip to the city, you should consider putting the St Louis Cathedral New Orleans on your list of attractions to see. If you are interested in attending St Louis Cathedral Mass during the week of Mardi Gras, services are held at 9 and 11 a.m. the Sunday prior, and at 7:30 a.m., 12 noon, and 5 p.m. on Ash Wednesday. Ashes are distributed at each one of these masses. If you are unable to attend mass at this oldest active cathedral in the U.S., you can still take one of the St Louis Cathedral tours before heading out of town.

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