One of the most impressive buildings in New Orleans’ French Quarter is also said to be one of the most haunted.
St. Louis Cathedral has a long and storied history in New Orleans. Untold hundreds of thousands of people have spent time here. Perhaps St. Louis Cathedral’s role of the heart of the community has led to so many ghosts being seen here. After all, after death it isn’t uncommon for peoples’ ghosts to be seen haunting locations that were important to them in life.
And surely St. Louis Cathedral fits that role for many past New Orleanians. On our haunted New Orleans tours we will be stopping at St. Louis Cathedral to tell the stories of this mysteriously beautiful building in New Orleans.
The Cathedral located on Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, is actually the fourth Cathedral built upon its current location.
The two buildings which used to house the congregation of St. Louis Cathedral were destroyed by unfortunate events. The first building used as the Cathedral was lost to a hurricane in 1722, just four years after the city's official founding. The Cathedral which replaced the earliest structure then burned to the ground in New Orleans' Good Friday Fire in 1788. The third itinary of St. Louis Cathedral was built in 1794, but by the mid-1800s, the congregation decided that they wished to enlarge their parish church. Thus, the fourth (and final) version of St. Louis Cathedral went up in the 1850s
But! There is yet another twist. Did you know that our cathedral is not actually a cathedral? No, indeed. Officially, its title is, "The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France." Fancy, don't you think?
Prior to the newest construction of St. Louis Cathedral, the Cathedral itself was used to bury some of New Orleans’ most prominent citizens and members of the Church.
Yep, you heard that right.
So, today, when you visit St. Louis Cathedral you’re walking right over one of New Orleans’ earliest cemeteries. Perhaps some of the ghosts which reportedly haunt St. Louis Cathedral as those of the men and women buried beneath the Cathedral itself. After all, we know ghosts do occasionally haunt their final resting places.
Most of the time, it's hard to understand why a ghost would choose to haunt its own grave. It seems like there should be better places for their soul to travel to. However, in the case of the ghosts at St. Louis Cathedral, we can easily see why they would want to hang around. The building itself is beautiful, and for many of those buried beneath the ground of the Cathedral, St. Louis Cathedral was once an important part of their lives. It makes sense that some of the ghosts seen wandering the Cathedral could belong to the people buried below the Cathedral.
As a matter of fact, every ghost story about St. Louis Cathedral we could find has to deal with either clergy members or people would worship at the church regularly. This makes a lot of sense.
Perhaps the most famous ghost associated with the St. Louis Cathedral is that of Pere Antoine. Pere was a Spanish Capuchin Friar at the St. Louis Cathedral. He arrived in New Orleans in 1774 and was named Pastor. His generosity and kindness to the people of New Orleans made him very popular. He was well liked by all of New Orleans. His death, on January 19th, 1829 was met with a somber and mourning city. He was laid to rest inside the St. Louis Cathedral 3 days after his death.
Since his death in 1829, the ghost of Pere Antoine has been seen in St. Louis Cathedral by an untold number of people. His ghost is easily recognized, as there is a portrait of him inside the Cathedral. It seems as of the ghost fo Pere Antoine especially likes to show himself around the Holiday seasons. Commonly, the ghost of Pere Antoine is seen near the altar and on the balconies. Interestingly, the ghost of Pere Antoine has been seen in other areas of the city as well, especially the alley next to the Cathedral.
On our ghost tours, we go into much greater depth about Pere Antoine and why we believe his ghost is still haunting the St. Louis Cathedral. His ghost is one of the most well-known ghosts in all of New Orleans.
In addition to the ghost of Pere Antoine, there are other famous ghosts associated with St. Louis Cathedral. Some of the ghosts which are said to haunt St. Louis Cathedral, like that of Pere Dagobert, who became Pastor of St. Louis Cathedral in 1745. On quiet evenings, after worship, people have seen the ghost of Dagobert walking the aisles of the Cathedral, his head down to the ground, walking silently in sandals.
Other ghosts which have supposedly been seen in St. Louis Cathedral are a little less believable and seem like an urban legend.
Take Delphine LaLaurie, of the famed LaLaurie Mansion.
Through the years, a few people have come forward claiming to have seen the ghost of Madam LaLaurie in the Cathedral. While it is true that she worshiped at the Cathedral in the early 1800s, I doubt that her ghost is haunting St. Louis Cathedral.
LaLaurie has become larger than life in her death. Stories of her life and wrong-doings have greatly been exaggerated in the 180 years since her death. It has become very ‘popular’ for people to claim they have seen her ghost. It is possible her ghost really does walk the aisles of St. Louis Cathedral? I guess anything is possible, but I highly doubt it. In addition, there are many other ghosts, including Pere Antoine and Pere Dagobert, which make much more sense.
The ghosts of St. Louis Cathedral are some of the most interesting ghosts in all of New Orleans. The stories of their lives and deaths will certainly be intriguing. Some of the stories about the ghosts which haunt the Cathedral will even shock you. For more of the stories about the ghosts of St. Louis Cathedral, check out our haunted New Orleans ghost tours. Nightly, our tours take brave souls deep into the haunted streets of New Orleans. If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend a night in New Orleans, you should definitely consider taking one of our haunted tours.
Regardless, whether you join Ghost City Tours on a tour or you don’t, you should set some time aside to visit St. Louis Cathedral while visiting New Orleans. This beautiful and historic building should be seen by anyone spending time in New Orleans. For more information about St. Louis Cathedral you could also take a French Quarter Tour from Gallivanter Tours.