I thought it would be interesting to document for everyone the fascinating symbols and tombs in Saint Louis Cemetery 1, New Orleans. What I saw there was really amazing, visually and historically.
The Grave of Marie Laveau, Voodoo Priestess
Marie Laveau lived from 1794 to 1181 in new Orleans. She was a very powerful figure, and led a following of tens of thousands. She and her family are buried in this family grave. A false rumor persists that by drawing three "x"s (XXX) on the side of her grave, she will grant you your wish.
Our tour guide said the only proper way to pray to her is to make a wish, and if she grants it, to return and leave a small offering. The "x"s are simply vandalism, and need to be continually removed.
Orleans Battalion of Artillery
This "society" tomb is noteworthy for a few reasons. It contains the bodies of a number of soldiers that fought against the British in 1815. The symbols on the tomb all have very specific meanings. Here is a closeup.
- the hourglass at the top: The impermanence of time
- the wreath: victory or immortality
- the cannon balls: their roles as artillerymen
- the upside down torches: the extinction of life
Perpetual Care markers are put on graves entrusted to the care fo the Catholic Church for upkeep and maintenance. Because of the costs involved, many of them are simply restored with concrete and latex paint. Restoration means making a new tomb in the same shape as the old one, but with modern materials. They don't work well in the humid environment and soon decay. Preservation, on the other hand, means taking care of the original, and fixing it with original materials and techniques.
Note the difference between the restored step tomb on the bottom left, and the original step tomb to the right.
Freemasons and Shriners
The marks of the Freemasons and the Shriners feature prominently here.
Many tomb covers are made of marble, which is extremely susceptible to the hot, humid climate, and soon warps and crumbles. Note the curved marble piece on the second one from the left.
Resting Place of Homer Plessy
In 1892, Homer Plessy and a Citizens Committee challenged the racist "Separate but Equal" doctrine. It was part of a highly coordinated attempt to have state-sponsored segregation ruled unconstitutional. Although the case reached the US Supreme Court, they did not succeed. It was not until 1954, in the Brown v. Board of Education that the law was struck down.