St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Orleans
 
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Architecture: the Archive Building
St. Augustine Archive Room
The Archive Room at St. Augustine, housed in the church's former livery,
includes discoveries from the University of New Orleans archeological dig in the
Treme Neighborhood  as well as many other artifacts from church and city history.

THE LEGEND OF THE LIVERY

Father Etienne Rousselon, the first pastor of St. Augustine Church in 1842, and the next seven or eight pastors after him did a lot of walking, especially while making sick calls and other pastoral visits to their parishioners. For the more distant sick calls, they resorted to horseback transportation.

This posed a bit of a problem since the most available land for holding horses and allowing them to graze was the school yard playground for the girls of Mount Carmel Elementary and High School, known by everyone as “Mount Carmel Convent.” And it was all too obvious that horses and girls at play do not mix very well.

Therefore, Father Joseph Subileau, the sixth pastor of St. Augustine Church, decided to build a livery in 1912. For this, he selected a space in the west-southwest corner of the rectory patio. As a natural complement to the livery, he had a sizeable horse watering trough built near the west-northwest corner of the rectory patio.

Thus, anytime Father Subileau had to get somewhere fast or travel some distance, he had only to walk across his patio, saddle his horse, mount and be on his way to his appointment. This mode of transportation did not change until well into the 1920s when the automobile became more affordable and more practical.

For the next 65 years or so, the picturesque stable suffered the ignoble fate of becoming a general junk room and a wash room for soiled clothes. Meanwhile, the horse watering trough became a fish pond.

Dr. Joyce Jackson, Ph.D., professor at LSU in Baton Rouge, changed all that in January 2005 by recommending St. Augustine Church to Divine Restoration, a television design/documentary show which aims to improve the lives of church congregations across North America.

In short order, following the seminal idea of Drex Brumfield and the pastor, we at St. Augustine Church chose our archives as the project for Divine Restoration to pursue. The television film show schooled us and organized us to clean out the old livery and to rough in things like electrical connections.

A frenetic 48 hours of work transformed the livery into an operational, though far from complete, archives. Over time, we plan to add numerous artifacts, as well as digitized documents, library files, photos and computer workstation for accessing our collection.


 

Archive with St. Augustine Window
A stained glass window of St. Augustine is a centerpiece of the Archive Room.

ORIGIN OF THE STAINED GLASS WINDOW OF ST. AUGUSTINE

Annunciation Convent suffered through several years of vacancy before it was razed in 1985. It happened that an auctioneer for the saleable items of the convent came to Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Church. After the Mass, the lady asked then pastor Father Michael Fritzen, S.V.D. where his stained glass window of St. Augustine was.

“We don’t have a stained glass window of St. Augustine,” he told her. “Well”, she said, “we are razing Annunciation Convent, and I am in charge of auctioning off the stained glass windows. We have a stained glass window of St. Augustine. We will let you have it until we return and ask for it.”

Excited beyond measure, Father Fritzen had the stained glass window mounted on a wooden frame wired for a couple of fluorescent lights to bring out the brilliant colors.

It would seem that the good lady used “until we ask for it” as a genteel way of saying that Annunciation Church was donating the stained glass window to St. Augustine Church. For no one has ever returned to reclaim the window.

THE STORY IN THE WINDOW

The stained glass window depicts a well-loved story about St. Augustine:

The scene is the seashore, where there is a small pool, a little boy with a seashell, and a sandy beach on which St. Augustine, clad in his episcopal robes, is walking, pondering with difficulty the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. “Father, Son, Holy Spirit; three in one!” he muttered, shaking his head.

As he approached the little boy who was running back and forth between the sea and the pool with a seashell of water, Augustine craned his neck and asked him: “Son, what are you doing?”

“Can’t you see?” said the boy. “I’m emptying the sea into this pool!”

“Son, you can’t do that!” Augustine countered. “I will sooner empty the sea into this pool than you will manage to get the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity into your head!”

Upon saying that, the boy, who was an angel according to legend, quickly disappeared, leaving Augustine alone with the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.


1210 Gov. Nicholls St., N.O., LA 70116, (504)525-5934, Fax 523-2473.
Sunday Mass 10:00AM.




Archive Building - Formerly the Livery
Archive Building - formerly
the Livery







Detail: Henriette Delille Wall in Archives
Detail: wall honoring
Henriette
Delille in Archive Room








"…to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God…"

Luke 8:10














Archive Wall combining cypress door, brickwork and plaster Detail of Archives wall: richly tactile surfaces include cypress doors, plaster and original brickwork
















Cross Detail from Tomb of the Unknown Slave
Cross Detail from Tomb of the Unknown Slave


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