March 2014 - Lafayette LA
The Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in downtown Lafayette, is the third church built on the site donated by Jean Mouton in 1821, when Lafayette was the town of Vermilionville. The present Dutch Romanesque landmark, completed in 1916, is on the National Registry of Historic Properties. Massive brick walls contrast with graceful arches and delicate red and white brickwork. Turrets flank the octagonal steeple above, from which the bells toll.
I didn't take any photos inside as I didn't think it looked that impressive. I was more intrigued by the cemetery outside.
Ornamental wrought iron gates topped with a cross and sunburst frame the entrance to the ancient cemetery. Inscribed in the arch above the gate is a scriptural text in French: "Il essuiera toute l'arme" translates to "He will wipe away every tear", Apoc. III.
St. John Cemetery is the oldest in the city of Lafayette. The high water table inSouth Louisiana makes above ground burial almost a necessity. The tomb of Jean Mouton, who donated the property for the church, is in this cemetery. Along with his son, Alexandre Mouton, governor of Louisiana from l843 to l846, and his grandson, J. Alfred Mouton, a West Point graduate and general in the Civil War.
Many speculate that the first pastor (Michel Bernard Barriere) selected the specific plot of land for the church parish due to the grand oak tree, which would have been 275 years old at that time (1821). The near five-century-old tree measures 9 feet in diameter, with a circumference of 28 feet 8 inches; it stands approximately 126 high with a spread of 210 feet across.