I Left My Leg in St. Roch Cemetery
The tiny gothic chapel at St. Roch cemetery is remarkable not just for who visits—but what they leave behind.
In the center of St. Roch Cemetery, past the columns, fences and above-ground tombs that mimic the historic houses in the surrounding neighborhood, there’s a little chapel. Through an arched door just off the altar is a small side room with a floor of marble bricks, each one inscribed with the word “Thanks” or “Merci.” The walls here are lined with plaster replicas of feet, hands, livers and brains. One pink plaster human heart, hanging about five feet high, bears a distinct line across it. That’s the water mark, where the flood rose after Katrina. Rusted crutches and leg braces that look like antique torture devices also dangle from the walls. Sitting on a table are more modern offerings of silk flowers, handwritten notes, photographs of loved ones, and even a Post-It reading “stay so very #alive.”
These are ex votos, tokens of thanks to St. Roch (pronounced “Rock” here in New Orleans) that the faithful have left for generations. They speak to specific human pa…
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