Deference to the divine: Carrollton United Methodist Church

In the 900 block of S. Carrollton Avenue, among some of the finer mansions on the street, sits the Carrollton United Methodist Church. It’s a gorgeous brick and stucco structure with a round, stained glass window hovering above a pillared entryway, and to be perfectly honest, I would have never known it was a church if not for the sign out front. It reminds me of Spanish-style missions that are so very commonplace in California and I wondered, was this originally a house or has it always been a church?

Minimal online research on the history afforded me nothing aside from the fact that the reverend is named Jon Lord who had previously worked at missions in South Africa and the church is open to all believers regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, etc. I also discovered that the church used to house a Tellers-Sommerhof Opus 93 organ , which is (apparently) pretty darn cool.

Deference to the divine: St. Mary’s Assumption Church

A few weeks ago, I had the divine pleasure of attending a wedding at St. Mary’s Assumption Church on Josephine Street. A co-worker and friend whom I’ve known for the past seven years finally tied the knot with his lovely girlfriend, a woman he’d been dating for the past several years. I believe Leigh and Bevin are currently floating around Europe on a cruise ship for their honeymoon – I wish them nothing but the best…

…and the best is how their marriage began. St. Mary’s is the most elaborate, most ornate and most awe-inspiring church I have been in since visiting the cathedrals in Paris many years ago.

Built in 1860, this cathedral was constructed for the overwhelming influx of German immigrants into New Orleans. It is also home to the largest shrine built in dedication to the Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a German priest (and missionary) who died while serving the local congregation. While caring for victims of Yellow Fever, Father Seelos contracted the disease and passed away in 1867. Many years later, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in April of 2000.

Stepping inside and gawking at the soaring ceilings, huge columns, aged wood pews and glorious altar, I felt a strange sense of familiarity. It wasn’t until later while researching the church that I discovered local author, Anne Rice, had actually referred specifically to this church in one of her novels (and my favorite book by her), The Witching Hour. The two main characters in the novel get married at St. Mary’s Assumption and Rice is not shy with colorful detail. No wonder it seemed familiar!

One particular detail (among so very many) that caught my eye was this elaborate pulpit that seemed to hover high above the seated guests. To be completely honest, at first I thought it was simply another column, made more embellished by its proximity to the altar. It wasn’t until one of the speakers climbed the steps behind it and appeared above the colorful statues that I realized its real purpose.

In 1974, St. Mary’s Assumption was dedicated as a National Historic Monument and, as I understand, they often give tours and I think I might just have to check it out. I would love to know more about the cathedral’s history, not to mention the massive organ that dates back to 1861…

Deference to the divine: Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church

I suppose part of the reason my camera ran out of juice in the middle of lunch last week has to do with the Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church that just happens to be right across the street from Domenica.

As John and I were walking up to the restaurant, we couldn’t help but snap at least fifty pics of this gorgeous church that has been here since 1851, though technically it was torn down and reconstructed again in 1930. The parishioners are now celebrating its 160th anniversary!

On the left-hand side of the building, there are a pair of huge, bronze doors covered with elaborate geometric designs. On the church’s website, it says that these doors weigh 1,500 pounds each! I believe the doors and some features inside the building, like the cast iron pews and altar, are all from the original church that stood here for 71 years before it had to be demolished and reconstructed later.

Though the church was closed, we couldn’t help trying to sneak peeks behind this beautiful wrought-iron gate and through the bars, we were able to get a shot of this colorful mural of the Virgin Mary…

Though I am wholly agnostic, perhaps even verging on atheism, it’s places like this that make me want to believe…

Deference to the divine: First Free Mission Baptist Church

When taking my dog for a walk, I will often turn down streets I don’t recognize in an effort to keep it fresh for both me and Pippin. The other day, we spotted this cute little church at 919 Adams Street. I wasn’t able to find out very much information about it online other than its establishment in 1924 and I am not sure if that date refers to the congregation or the building itself.

Essentially, it doesn’t really matter because I love the tall, colorful windows in the tower, its crenelated top and how the ferns are already growing out from between the newly painted bricks.

Deference to the divine: Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church

On the corner of Canal and North Lopez Streets lies a gorgeous Catholic church that is, unfortunately, no longer being utilized in favor of a smaller, more “modern” building down the street.

This classic beauty is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The parish was founded in 1879 and the church was completed later in 1924.

There is so much intricate detail on the outside of this church that it makes me wonder how cool the inside might be…

and when the sun hits this wonderful stain glass, rosette medallion window – how the colors would flood the interior and make for a truly religious experience.

Unfortunately, all three, huge copper doors are closed until further notice.

Deference to the divine: First Emanuel Baptist Church

This church on Carondelet Street is so incredibly cool looking, I have been in awe of it ever since I moved here. I absolutely love the stepped columns leading up to the main tower. As I was standing there, attempting to take a photo with the least amount of electricity and telephone wires in the shot, an older gentleman came walking by and commented in passing. “That church has been there for as long as I can remember!” Although I thought it might be empty and no longer used, the stranger assured me the church still had services every Sunday.

I did some light research on the building and could find nothing discussing the architecture or age. If anyone knows anymore information, I’d love to hear about it! They do however, have a Facebook page and a website!

Deference to the divine: Zion Lutheran Church

If there is one thing I’m not, it’s religious. My dad is a non-practicing Muslim and I’m pretty sure my mom is Christian, but neither of them every took us to church or even mosque, as the case may be.  I never went to church on Sundays, I’ve never been baptized and I’ve never sung a hymn. Once when I was very small, I attended some kind of church group with my grandmother in Utah.  All I can remember is watching as they passed around wafers and wine that I couldn’t have. I didn’t understand why at the time…

Although religion continues to astound and confuse me, I have found that there are some aspects that have developed from all faiths that I can appreciate; their art, music and architecture.

Architecture in New Orleans is already historically unique and generally gorgeous, but I’ve never taken the time to notice all of the beautiful churches in town (there are a lot) and I think it’s about time that changed.

This is the Zion Lutheran Church located at 1924 St. Charles Avenue. Admittedly, it’s not one often seen in pictures or known by those outside New Orleans, but I still think it’s beautiful.

I love this church because it reminds me of what you might find in a small town, where it’s the largest structure for miles and miles around. I searched for a history of the building and discovered that it’s been in its present location since 1871!  With simple, yet lovely stain glass windows and marvelous architectural detailing both inside and out, this divine beauty deserves our attention. Can I get a Hallelujah?