St. Landry Parish Spiritual Tour
Travelers come to St. Landry Parish in search of the site of a miracle, a floating eucharistic procession on the bayou, and traiteurs or “faith healers”. We can thank the people who settled here for these diverse beliefs and rituals. They brought with them their own style of worship, creating an area with varied denominations.
Whether you are embarking on a spiritual journey or an admirer of religious architecture, this itinerary is for you.
- St. Landry Parish, It's gumbo for your SOUL!
Day 1 - Opelousas - The Zydeco Capital of the World
Louisiana’s third oldest establishment, Opelousas, is the official capital of zydeco music, a genre influenced by early Creole, Cajun, blues, jazz, and gospel music. Learn more about the roots of zydeco at the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center. The center pays tribute to one Louisiana’s most iconic Creole musicians through a carved steel statue of Amédé Ardoin (1898-1942).
Discover the meaning of Creole with folklorist Rebecca Henry at the Creole Folklife Heritage Center. Rebecca is a French-speaking Creole who practices folk medicine and traditional healing.
The town’s religious history is just as diverse as its people with several historic church congregations. Tour one of the oldest African American churches in Louisiana, Little Zion Baptist Church, and the oldest Methodist church congregation west of the Mississippi River, Louisiana Memorial United Methodist Church. The town also boasts a phenomenal gospel choir at the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, which performs the first, third, and fifth Sundays at 11am mass.
Take a lunch break at Arpeggio’s Lounge, serving Cajun and Creole fare.
On your faith tour, include the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum, one of two locations in the U.S. dedicated to the story of the "Orphan Train Riders." In the early 19th century, the Sisters of Charity placed orphans from the New York Foundling Hospital with Catholic families in Louisiana. Meet orphan train descendants and understand what life was like for the riders.
End your day at the St. Landry Catholic Church, our oldest church parish. There you’ll find the Father Lafleur Monument, an original sculpture in honor of this WWII POW’s heroic last moments aboard a scuttled ship. Visit the church grounds in October for a cemetery tour featuring costumed actors and historic reenactments. Tours of the church and cemetery are available by appointment.
Group dining options include Soileau's Dinner Club, one of Opelousas' oldest dining establishments or the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant in Washington, just 8 miles north of Opelousas. There are also several dining options at Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino.
Day 2 - Eunice – The Little Cajun Saint
On day two of your tour, head west to Eunice, the Prairie Cajun Capital of Louisiana. Eunice is a small Cajun community with a steadfast loyalty to their musical, cultural, and spiritual traditions. The town has a rich musical history which can be explored at the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame Museum or at the Savoy Music Center, home of the famous accordion maker, Marc Savoy.
The region’s culture and history are on display at the Jean Lafitte National Park & Preserve Prairie Acadian Cultural Center. The center is devoted to telling the story of the prairie Acadians and their fascinating rituals such as the Courir de Mardi Gras & Chicken Run. Hear stories about faith healers or traiteurs and discover folk practices such as making a Couronne for All Saints Day. Save time in your itinerary to visit the center's kitchen for a Cajun cooking demo. Demonstrations take place at 4pm on a Saturday and can be scheduled Wednesday through Friday by appointment.
After lunch, travel just southeast of Eunice to Church Point, Louisiana to visit the resting place of the “Little Cajun Saint”, Charlene Richard. In 1959 Charlene was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia and spent her last days praying for those in need. Even today, visitors come to her gravesite with prayers of intercession.
Day 3 - Grand Coteau - The Site of the Miracle
St. Landry Parish, is noted for its many historic Catholic institutions, especially in the town of Grand Coteau. Here, travelers report an indescribable peacefulness. That sense may have a lot to do with the Shrine of St. John Berchmans, located at The Academy of the Sacred Heart. The shrine is the location of a Vatican-recognized miracle, one of the only miracles in the U.S. in which an apparition occurred and where visitors can see the original site where the miracle was performed.
Take a break for lunch and be sure to include a sweet dough pie from The Kitchen Shop for dessert! Groups can dine at Brent's Catering in Grand Coteau or Cafe Josephine, located in the neighboring town of Sunset, only a mile and a half westward.
While visiting Grand Coteau, don't miss the opportunity to tour St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and the old Jesuit cemeteries on the grounds. Local historian, photographer, and author of the book, For the Greater Honor & Glory of God, Bonnie Barry, is available for guided tours by appointment. Most fascinating is her knowledge of the church's thirty-two original paintings and the artist responsible for several pieces, including the fourteen Mysteries of the Rosary, Mr. Erasmus Humbrecht. Guided tours of the church and cemetery are also offered every October during the Sweet Dough Pie Festival!
That evening there are group dining options in nearby Opelousas, Sunset, or Arnaudville.
Day 4 - Arnaudville - The Jewel of The Teche
Arnaudville is a small French-speaking community of roughly 1,000, located on the intersections of bayous Teche and Fuselier. In recent years many artists have relocated to Arnaudville, contributing to the cultural economy and sparking a cultural renaissance.
Experience life as a local at NUNU Arts & Culture Collective, a gallery, creative incubator, and event space. The collective is volunteer-run and has become a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Shop for original art or participate in a drum circle! The collective has several events throughout the week. Just check their calendar when planning your visit.
When you arrive at your next destination, you might want to stay a while! Bayou Teche Brewing is an innovative micro-brewery with original ales that complement the area’s cuisine and way-of-life. Ingredients native to the region are used for ales such as the Ragin’ Cajun. Sample beer in the tap room, and hear live music on the porch, available on Saturdays and Sundays. The brewery also embraces sustainable living through a native plant landscape, perfect for birdwatching, and a retention pond that captures the byproduct and is used to farm crawfish. Tours of the brewery are offered in French or English and are available Saturday or by appointment.