Besides a wish to see the inside of this gorgeous building, there was another reason to visit one of the most beautiful buildings on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Christ Church Cathedral.
One of my family members (not super-close) is actually buried there. Inside. In the floor. Which…I’m Jewish so that’s a little bit of a novelty (not all of my family is Jewish). It’s Bishop Leonidas Polk who was a founder of Sewanee and CSA general who was killed during the ’64 Atlanta Campaign. He was known as the ‘fighting bishop’ during the war as he was Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, and that’s why he’s buried here. This is the first non-Roman Catholic church in the Louisiana territory.
And it’s gorgeous.
The congregation was founded in 1803. Their first was riverside of Canal and Bourbon. It soon became too small, so a second building was consecrated in 1837. It was eventually purchased by Judah Touro and became Nefutzoth Yehudah synagogue after extensive renovation (it’s interesting — see pg 19). Through partnership with another congregation, that’s now known as Touro Synagogue, which is also now on St. Charles, consecrated in 1909. Touro is *so* pretty too — we’ve been to services there.
This is Christ Church’s fourth building.
And as to how I got in, I just explained that cousin Leo was…here…and they completely understood. Usually I’m comfortable asking for whatever, but I played how I was going to make this request about a dozen times in my head. I didn’t actually say “someone in my family is in your floor” like in the title here (!!)…but just explained who I was and if it would be okay to visit. In fact, the sweet woman in the office said that they get visitors who come to see him pretty often. His place is up on the — well in Jewish parlance we call it the bimah, but in this case I think it is called the altar. The raised area in the front of the sanctuary. Right by the organist.
So we have family buried inside Christ Church Cathedral, and at Chevra Thilim down Canal. Probably the only people who can say that.
Anyway, the stained glass here is — amazing: