An excerpt from my second book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Churches, Cemeteries and Voodoo

The cemetery was named Campo Santo, translated as “holy country.” It opened on August 16, 1876, the feast day of St. Roch. In a Gothic design, the black wrought-iron fence opens to a backdrop of muddy skies and swirling clouds. Cracked cement scarred by years of moist air follow a wide trail toward the chapel.

Cement walkways separate the raised tombs from the mausoleums with rows of drawer-type graves. Near the chapel a row of marble tombs seems to stand at attention with a list of names etched in the facade. Two are gray, while the others are mirror images of tan and brown, each with ceramic flower vases stretched across the front.

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On the opposite side of the chapel, some burial sites are less ornate, but are not without character. The oven style concrete mausoleum has a worn wooden shelf across each row for flower vases. An all-day rain forms puddles on the ground, adding even more drama by casting deep pools of color. In the corner, a tall teal inset holds a station of the cross.

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The names change and so do the tombs, from a stone crib for a sleeping child to elaborate stonework with ornate chains and iron tassels. Yet, there is beauty in every grave, hope in every prayer, and wonder in every wide-eyed tourist.

Travel Notes:

St. Roch cemetery, 1725 St. Roch Avenue off of St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans. 504-304-0576. Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Tours available through Save Our Cemeteries, http://www.saveourcemeteries.org.

You may buy copies of this book and more of Deborah Burst’s books www.deborahburst.com