Poll a random sampling of people who are not Roman Catholic New Orleanians. Who is the patron saint of New Orleans? You don’t have to. I can already tell you the top three answers. They are: 1). Joan of Arc. 2). Joan of Arc. 3). Joan of Arc.
It is not Saint Joan of Arc.
No matter what your Uber or carriage tour driver tells you, it is not St Joan of Arc. Ask any Catholic New Orleanian that you know. They can tell you. Saint Joan of Arc is a Saint and she prays for us all, but she is not officially recognized as a special patroness of this wonderful city we call home. We are all devoted to St. Joan of Arc and ask her intercession, who doesn’t? But, St. Joan of Arc is just another Jane or Joe as far as we are concerned.
You don’t have to ask only the Roman Catholics. Any Catholic will do. Roman Catholic New Orleanians, are the most common kind but I have met Coptic Catholics, Melkite Catholics, Chaldean Catholics… Heck, one time I even met a Syro-Malankaran Catholic on Royal Street. We were admiring the same Blue Dog painting I was and we got into a conversation, as people often do. He was a nice guy. I think his name was Earl.
I have no doubt in my mind that innumerable anonymous saints keep the irreplaceable City of New Orleans in their prayers, but for Catholics, they ask the Archbishop of New Orleans who is who. The pope knows. Officially, New Orleans only has two patron saints. Neither one is Joan of Arc.
When you want to get the straight skinny where it’s at, go to the source. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of many things, most importantly France, but she is not a patroness of New Orleans. Devotion to St. Joan of Arc is a local cultus. That is why we love her. She is an inspiration. She is the Maid of Orleans. She is the unofficial muse of New Orleans. We all love her.
Take a gander:
No. That’s the wrong photo but I’m going to keep it anyway. Look at that photo. Look at those mirrors. Look at those clouds. Life is good. Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, she took that photo on the edge of New Orleans, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. I don’t know what happening on the other side of the lake. What I do know is what is happening in my part of New Orleans. Color me generous. I love to share.
This is the photo I meant for you to take a gander at:
We honor Joan of Arc in New Orleans. The statue is a gift from France. Qui Transtulit Sustinet.
I took that photo at the base of the gold statue where the French Market begins on Decatur Street. It used to be where the Ceasar’s Casino (nee Harrah’s Casino) is today. Joan of Arc. The tip of my nose is cold. It is 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun. Today is a patient alligator of a day.
St. Jeanne d’Arc, pray for us.
In order of hierarchy, Our Lady of Prompt Succor is the Patroness of New Orleans, not St. Joan of Arc. The National Shrine to Our Lady of Prompt Succor is at 2701 State Street. It’s on the Ursuline Academy campus on South Claiborne Avenue. Uptown. It used to be in the convent. I sometimes go to spend time with the statue of “Sweetheart.”
New Orleans is full of secrets hidden out in the open for people curious enough to notice what is going on. You belong here. New Orleans is like everywhere else. The main difference is that New Orleans is subtly different in a better way. New Orleans is a world of its own. You are always welcome in our world. Check your baggage.
New Orleans’ cathedral is named what it is named for good reasons. It is named after the patron saint of the city. Spoiler alert: It is not Joan of Arc. The cathedral in Jackson Square in New Orleans is dedicated to the intercession of St. Louis King of France, Louis IX. He was a good king. He is a good saint too, as one might assume without saying because of his official title. It’s like being king. Being good is what saints do.
What is that exactly?
We all have to do what we have to do. If you can make someone’s day brighter, do it. You will have done a good thing. That is what New Orleans is all about. Joan of Arc knew that. She was born to do that. Everyone in New Orleans thanks God every day for Saint Joan of Arc, even that atheist I know who lives on Panola Street, the one who named his son Judas out of spite.
When I meet a New Orleans woman, a woman from New Orleans, a real New Orleanian, you know the kind if you have ever met one, the real deal, a real woman, I look her in the eyes and I know I am seeing Saint Joan of Arc. That’s what I like about living here. Commitment. Love with passion, with your eyes open, under a bayou aurora borealis. I don’t know the right latin term but you know what I mean: NOLA heavenly lights. It’s not just for ladies. When I look in the mirror, I want to see a flash of Joan of Arc in my eyes.
Visit New Orleans like you mean it.
Put your life on the line. Go for broke. Are you ready for an adventure? You should get the socks for it.
No matter what you wear New Orleans will meet you on your own terms and New Orleans will love you. You have two friends on Esplanade Avenue. When New Orleans calls, like Nature, you have to answer. Resistance is futile. We are here, waiting for you, like a flower waiting for a bee. New Orleans lacks something without you here. You belong here.
You have two friends here.