St. Louis Cathedral

New Orleans, Louisiana | C.1850

Photo Credit: Marco Fratus

With its porcelain white steeple rising above the old downtown center of New Orleans for generations, the beloved St. Louis Cathedral offers more than just a picturesque backdrop for eating a beignet—to both the living and the dead. 

While the main Catholic church of New Orleans has stood on this spot since 1718, the current St. Louis Cathedral is the third iteration, built in 1850 after a fire greatly damaged the second church that was built on the site. Painted in a bright white hue, the French-style cathedral faces Jackson Square, marking the historic center of New Orleans. Witness to a history as long as an extended trombone slide, the sacred site, of course, has interacted with a fair share of characters, including the ghost of a singing priest. 

Père Dagobert was a Capuchin monk who became the pastor of St. Louis Cathedral in 1745. Beloved by be the people of Crescent City, the jovial friar was a known baritone and fierce defender of the community. These days, his spirit has reportedly been sighted walking along the side streets of the cathedral, singing a hymn or tune before disappearing into the early morning mist. 

Unlike most haunting stories, it seems Dagobert’s ghostly appearance is less to do with tragedy and more to do with continuing to live in a city he so loved. In a city known for its lively entertainment scene and unique multicultural architecture, one can’t blame an ethereal spirit for sticking around the music-filled alleyways in the afterlife. In the spirit of the city’s impromptu jazz bands that gather on Jackson Square, if one hears the tune of a spectral monk, they might as well join in on the fun. 

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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