Friday, October the twelfth
In the year of our Lord - two thousand and seven
A weekday off in October lends the perfect opportunity for a cool casual ride
through the south Louisiana countryside.
Committing the chaos of the capitol city traffic to my mirrors and hittin' the curves with no agenda
and no time table, we roll south to St. Gabriel on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.
I can't tell you how many times I've blasted by this place at speed;
never stopping to appreciate it's beauty and nationally recognized historical value,
I pulled over on the side of the narrow country lane and noticed two children
running with their dog in the meadow and two ladies picking up pecans in the shade
of this beautiful stand of trees.
As I approached this historical marker for a close-up;
I noticed the silent sentry standing guard at his post.
SAINT GABRIEL ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
3625 Hwy. 75, St. Gabriel, LA.
The original Parish of St..Gabriel is one of the oldest church parishes in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. According to information furnished, the parish originally dates back to 1761. Capuchin Vicar General, Father Dagobert, directed that the church building, shown above, be built in 1769. The building was relocated to its present site in 1772. Historical records indicate that four other parishes were established from this church, one of which is St.John The Evangelist in Plaquemine. The building is rare because under the present 19th. Century facade is hidden an extremely rare 18th. Century French colonial church building.
The first baptism record available for the St. Gabriel Church is dated April 22, 1773, and the first marriage record is from January 1, 1773.
Behind the church, this marker stood alone.
This square column, engraved on all four sides, led to the rest of the cemetery.
The simplistic gothic architecture of the old Catholic church seemed to transport me back in time,
trying to imagine this area before the industrial invasion, microwave towers and the levees;
even before the great civil war, or the war of 1812; even before the birth of our great nation!
Here in the deep south, many of our cemeteries are built above the ground
like "cities of the dead".
And this method is still practiced today as evidenced by the modern mausoleums.
As I heard the afternoon church bells ring, I looked deeper toward the rear of the property
to see the new modern brick church and bell tower;
and what was that other tombstone all by itself over to the right?
Moving in for a closer look revealed the details of the colorful mural across the front wall
and the skill and craftsmanship required to create the dual front doors.
When I realized the inspiration of this memorial, I felt sad for all the victims,
both living and dead.
Counting the many blessings in my life, I felt grateful for the privilege to visit this very special place.
Then I saddled up and headed back to reality.
There are a number of other such spots that come to mind, very similar to this one,
that I speed past during the course of my everyday activities but would like to stop and visit.
But they will have to wait for another day,
and another ride,
if God would be so kind...