Visit the second oldest church parish in the Lafayette Catholic Diocese, St. Landry Catholic Church of Opelousas. The earliest documented ritual performed was a baptism on May 16, 1756. However, the parish church was officially founded in 1770 as The Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Post of Opelousas by French Capuchin friars. Since the 1700s, more ornate churches have been built, and the current edifice, designed and completed by noted Opelousas architect Tilghman George Chachere, Sr. in 1909, is a Gothic form of structure with Romanesque motifs. Also, view stained-glass windows made in France by German artisans.
Another reason to visit St. Landry Catholic Church is the captivating image of Lieutenant Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur fighting to save the lives of American POWs during WWII. The Father Lafleur Monument can be found on the grounds of the church, near the entrance.
“Sculpted by renowned Italian artist, Franco Alessandrini, Lieutenant Father Lafleur’s last heroic crowning moment of life is depicted in white Carrara marble. Beautifully carved is Father Lafleur struggling to push men to possible freedom from the hull of the torpedoed and sinking ‘hell ship’, the Shinyo Maru while water pours down over them.”
You can learn more about Father Lafleur on a tour of the church and cemetery with historian James Douget. Guided tours available for groups and individuals by appointment.
During the second and third weekends of October, see costumed re-enactors portray historic Opelousas figures in the cemetery during the St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery Tours & Historic Reenactments. This historic cemetery contains graves that date back to the 1790s. Veterans from various wars are buried here, along with old prominent families of the Opelousas area. Louisiana Governor Jacques Dupré and his wife are buried here, as well as one of Napoléon Bonaparte’s soldiers, Gen. Garrigues de Flaugeac. This event welcomes bus groups and also offers handicap accessible tours! Additionally, tours of the St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery can be arranged throughout the year by appointment.