Tuesday, August 21, 2018

NOLA: St. Roch's Campo Santo

It would be easy to spend an entire weekend in NOLA just visiting cemeteries. There are many, and they are all full of fascinating history. St. Roch is a neighborhood in New Orleans, about 10 minutes away from the French Quarter. We were drawn here by the chapel and cemetery for which the neighborhood is named.

Saint Roch is the patron saint of good health, and it was to him that New Orleans Reverend Peter Leonard Thevis prayed to in 1867 during a violent scourge of yellow fever. He vowed that were his parish spared, he would build a chapel in Saint Roch's name. Over 3000 New Orleanians died from the outbreak in that year alone, although yellow fever had claimed over 40,000 from 1817 - 1905. Incredibly, every member of his parish survived the epidemic, and so, true to his word, he set out to erect the chapel and surrounding cemetery in celebration.

For years, locals have visited the chapel and left behind a thank you for their good health upon healing. Among these offerings are a variety of prosthetic legs, eyes, dentures, medical braces, crutches, canes, and other instruments. Unfortunately, the chapel has been closed for some time for restoration, so at the time of our visit we could only view these offerings through a small, barred, window. Fortunately there are some excellent photos from previous visitors online, two of which I am sharing below from atlas obscura (one of my favorite resources!).

source: atlas obscura/joanna ebenstein

source: atlas obscura/michael brownlee

The surrounding cemetery (campo santo) is beautiful and worth a visit. It is a unique and fascinating spot, whether you are fortunate enough to enter the chapel or not. The cemetery is, perhaps oddly, bright and colorful (gorgeous blue alcoves and bright white marble) for a place of mourning (this is true of much of New Orleans in comparison to those deliciously spooky New England cemeteries), and beautifully maintained.

Thinking of booking a trip? Try airbnb for local digs at a lower cost.



  1. I've been wanting to go here forever! Bummer that the chapel was closed :(

    1. I know! I was so looking forward to it. We could view it through a very small window, but it was impossible to photograph.

  2. The cemeteries in New Orleans seem incredible! I'm pretty sure that would be my main reason for going there :)

    1. They really are! Should be top of a bucket list for anyone who's obsessed with visiting cemeteries :)