Integration of New Orleans Catholic Schools

Integration of New Orleans Catholic Schools

Archbishop Rummel supervised Catholic School integration. (NOTE: originally posted in 2015)

Catholic School integration. Protest held on June, 17, 1960, at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Segregationist Catholics protest, at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, June 17, 1960. (T-P photo)

Catholic School Integration, 1960

Joseph Francis Rummel (1876-1964) was Archbishop of New Orleans from 1935 until his death on 8-November-1964. He shepherded the Church in New Orleans through the turbulent years of school integration and the Civil Rights Movement. Rummel integrated Notre Dame Seminary by allowing two black men to study for the priesthood there in 1948, and allowed the Josephite Fathers to open St. Augustine High School, dedicated to educating young black men, in 1951. He ordered desegregation in all Catholic churches in the archdiocese in 1953. In 1960, he tackled the issue of segregated parish elementary schools.

Rummel didn’t even have a firm plan on how to implement desegregation in 1960. Still, white Catholics were incensed at even the mention of integrating schools. He ignored these protests and moved forward, announcing a desegregation plan for the Fall of 1962.

catholic school integration. White Catholics protesting the integration of St. Rose de Lima on September 4, 1962 (T-P photo)

White Catholics protesting the integration of St. Rose de Lima on September 4, 1962 (T-P photo)

The segregationists were out in force in September of 1962, at multiple schools. The folks at St. Rose de Lima weren’t as informed about what was going on with the Archdiocese. The sign in the background says “Go back North Big John”. That’s problematic for two reasons: First, Rummel’s first name was Joseph, and second, he was Bishop of Omaha prior to coming to New Orleans, and had been here for twenty-seven years at that time.

White Flight

While the policy of the Archdiocese clearly prohibits segregation, “white flight” to the suburbs ensured that most of the schools administered by the Archdiocese to this day are still segregated.

Because of his long tenure, Archbishop Rummel made a major impact on the city. Remind me to tell you the story about how the school that bears his name was almost run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart sometime. Seriously.

Archbishop Rummel is one of the Legendary Locals of New Orleans.

Twelve Months New Orleans June

Twelve Months New Orleans June

Twelve Months New Orleans June, continuing the series by Enrique Alferez

twelve months new orleans june

Twelve Months New Orleans June

This image is the sixth in a series of images by Enrique Alferez, published by Michael Higgins as “The Twelve Months of New Orleans.” Higgins published the illustrations in 1940. The image features an outdoor procession, part of the celebration of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi.

Enrique Alferez

Alferez was born in Northern Mexico on May 4, 1901. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1929. He came to New Orleans in 1929. Alferez made New Orleans his home. He took advantage of various Works Progress Administration grants in the late 1930s. Alferez created a number of sculptures in the metro area, particularly in New Orleans City Park. Additionally, he designed the large fountain in front of Shushan Airport (now New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Alferez drew and painted, as well as sculpting. So, he included many New Orleans landmarks in the “Twelve Months” booklet.

Twelve Months

Twelve Months New Orleans January

The title/cover page of the booklet says:

Twelve Months
New Orleans

A set of 12 Romantic
Lithographic Prints
Displaying 60 local subjects
drawn direct on the plate
with pen, brush, and crayon
Enrique Alferez

Printed and published by Michael Higgins
at 303 North Peters St

June’s Lithograph

Summertime/outdoor activities and are the themes for June.

The Corners

Top Left: Voodoo. June 23 is St. John’s Eve, the day before the Feast of St. John, on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar. St. John’s Eve is a significant night for practitioners of Voudon. The Voudon would go out to Bayou St. John and the lake, performing rituals and asking favor of the Loa, beginning at sunset. Additionally, modern Wiccans and other Pagans mark St. John’s Eve, as part of their Midsummer rituals.

Top Right: Lee Memorial

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy remained a significant part of the culture of New Orleans as late as the 1940s. While there’s no one particular event related to Lee or the (now-removed) monument in June, Lee Circle served as an escape. Downtown residents and workers sought refuge and relaxation in the green space of the circle.

Bottom Left: Jefferson Davis, only President of the Confederate States of America, was born on 3-June-1808. So, New Orleans marked the occasion with a ceremony. The illustration features the location of that ceremony, the Davis statue, formerly located on the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway. The city re-named that parkway in 2021, for Dr. Norman C. Francis.

Bottom Right: “Lakeshore Lilies” – not flowers, but rather young ladies enjoying the sea breeze along Lakeshore Drive.

Summer Observances

The Catholic Church is fond of large, outdoor celebrations, in the 18th and 19th Centuries. While earlier processions wound around entire towns, parishes with long French or Spanish traditions, continued those outdoor celebrations.

The Feast of Corpus Christi began in Belgium in the 13th Century. Priests paraded the Eucharist around the town in a grand procession. Popes endorsed and encouraged this feast day. Naturally, the tradition carried over to French-Spanish Colonial New Orleans. By the mid-20th Century, the processions were no longer citywide. Parishes processed the Eucharist around their own neighborhoods.

The drawing shows a large Corpus Christi procession. So, a bishop (perhaps the archbishop?) carries the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. The monstrance is a large gold receptacle for the consecrated host. Additionally, he is accompanied by acolytes carrying a canopy. That canopy protects both bishop and Eucharist. Two men, dressed in Colonial-style costume, observe the procession from horseback. The caption reads, simply, “Corpus Christi Procession.”

See you for the seventh image in July.


Podcast 27 –  22-June-2019 – WWI, Voudou

Podcast 27 – 22-June-2019 – WWI, Voudou

Two short segments on NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

Exhibit from the WWI Museum

NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

We’re back after a week off, while we celebrated LT Firstborn’s master’s degree! The submariner earned a master’s in Military History from the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He spent the year as a student living in Kansas City, MO. So, we went up to see him graduate and have him show us around.

On the last day of the adventure, last Monday, we went to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. While it’s natural for New Orleanians in particular to compare the museum here with the one in KC, they’re quite different.

St. John’s Eve

NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

Clip from the New Orleans Times, 25-June-1870

Our pick of the week from Today in New Orleans History is a bit of a cheat. We picked Sunday, 23-June, because it’s St. John’s Eve. Pre-Christian religions celebrated the Summer Solstice for thousands of years. When Christianity moved into Northern Europe, the priests integrated pre-Christian celebrations into the church’s liturgical calendar. Mid-summer, the solstice, became the Feast of St. John. The night before offered pagans a chance to hold their rituals.

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

St. John’s Eve on Magnolia Bridge

In New Orleans, those “pagans” were Afro-Caribbeans, free and enslaved. They worked their spirits, their Loa, into the Christian framework.Those who respect the spirits of Voudon go out to Magnolia Bridge over Bayou St. John to celebrate the solstice on St. John’s Eve.

WWI Museum

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

WWI Memorial in Kansas City

The  memorial part of the WWI Museum and Memorial is over seventy years older than the museum. The foundation created to make the memorial broke ground in 1926. Generals, Admirals, politicians, and 60,000 members of the American Legion witnessed the event. The LibertyTower and adjacent buildings opened in 1926.

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

Exhibit from the WWI Museum

Until 2002, the museum portion operated from the two Beaux Arts buildings on either side of Liberty Tower. Kansas City followed New Orleans’ D-Day Museum, along with others, in upgrading. While the museum in KC isn’t as large as the WWII Museum, it’s comprehensive.

Link to my lecture from last week at the National World War II Museum.


All Souls, All Saints, and All Hallows Eve

All Souls, All Saints, and All Hallows Eve


 All Souls, All Saints, and All Hallows Eve figure prominently in the fabric of New Orleans.


new orleans history - all souls

House decorated for Halloween (Infrogmation photo)

All Souls, All Saints, and All Hallows Eve

Ghosts and ghouls and goblins! All Hallows’ Eve is upon us! New Orleans never lacks for an excuse to party. Halloween provides a fun theme. Even in New Orleans, the season offers more than jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and witches on broomsticks. On Halloween, Catholics gear up for the really important day: The Feast of All Souls, on November 2.


new orleans history - all souls

Feast of All Saints, novel by Anne Rice

Halloween wasn’t really A Thing in New Orleans until the 1980s. Anne Rice’s first novel of her “Vampire Chronicles” dropped in 1976. The series enticed people. Readers accepted the notion of vampires in New Orleans. Combine this with other authors like Billy Martin (writing as Poppy Z. Brite),, writing about paranormal New Orleans. It was as if we always had vampires. Add The Witching Hour and Rice’s other “Mayfair Witches” stories. Halloween and New Orleans connected.

Voudon and Halloween

new orleans history - all souls

Voodoo Experience Stage, 2009 (courtesy Commons user Njmaki)

Voudon doesn’t have a lot of connection to Samhain or All Hallows Eve. St. John’s Eve, at midsummer, was always the big “feast day” for followers of Voudon. While the focus should be on the Celtic traditions, Voudon gets caught in the mix. Now no longer happening, the annual Voodoo Music Fest contributes to this, much to the dismay of those who don’t approve of the mashup.

All Saints Day

New Orleans History - all souls

Three “double” tombs in front of the Italian Society Mausoleum in St. Louis Cemetery Number One in Faubourg Treme (author’s photo)

The Catholic Church recognizes individuals believed to be in heaven as saints. (New Orleans recognizes football players wearing black and gold as Saints). While conclusive evidence of such a state is hard to come by, Catholics make it happen. So the Church looks for supernatural events after a person’s death. Those taking up the “cause” of a prospective Saint attribute “miracles” to them. A sick person prays to a holy person for intercession. Their illness passes. The Church calls that a miracle. So, the Pope declares the holy person a saint.

new orleans history - all souls

Saint Francis Xavier Seelos, a Redemptorist priest whose work in New Orleans helped make him a candidate for sainthood. (Wikimedia Commons)


 Martyrs, those who give their lives defending their faith, are believed to go immediately to heaven, which is why the yearly calendar of saints’ feast days includes a large number of them. In fact, the first recorded general recognition of saints was in 609, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome for the Blessed Virgin and all martyrs. May 13 was designated the date this event would be commemorated. During the papacy of Gregory III (731-741), the recognition of “all saints” was moved from May 13 to November 1. This commemoration gave the Church a “catch-all” day, where folks could pray for their “personal saints,” family and friends who they believed were in heaven but would never be formally recognized by the Church as such.

All Souls

The tradition of All Hallows (All Saints) is a strong one, but it’s still secondary in New Orleans. Faithful Catholics rise and go to Mass on November 1st. So, then they head out to the cemeteries. They clean up and prepare their family tombs for November 2nd. That’s the “Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed.” Catholics call the day, the Feast of All Souls.

While most people don’t want to believe that Grandpa is burning in the fiery pit for all eternity, maybe he wasn’t as good a person as he could have been. Catholics have a solution for that situation: Purgatory.


The idea was, since Grandpa wasn’t ready to go directly to heaven, he had to make a stop along the way, for purification. This pit stop was worked up over centuries into an elaborate system, where the faithful could pray for a “reduction in sentence” as it were, for their loved ones that were in Purgatory. Knowing that Grandpa wasn’t on the express train motivated Grandma to make sure the family tomb was kept up well and prayers regularly said for the repose of his soul. Since November 2 was a work day (the day before often is a holiday in Catholic-dominated countries), any clean-up projects at the cemetery had to be done on the day before.

new orleans history - all souls

“Decorating the Tombs” from Harper’s Weekly, 1885 (public domain)

Fixing up the Family Tomb

Cleaning up the family plot is often a bit more complicated in New Orleans than other parts of the United States, because we regularly bury our loved ones above-ground. The New Orleans cemetery tour guides will tell stories of how this had to be done in the early years of the city, since burying coffins below sea level would force them to the surface as the water table would rise. The truth of the tradition is a bit more simple (and obvious): above-ground burial was something that came over to New Orleans from France. Above-ground tombs gave families a better focal point for visiting the departed and praying for a remission of their time in Purgatory.

Above Ground

These tombs are usually made of regular brick-and-mortar, then plastered over and whitewashed. Catholic cemeteries in New Orleans were usually constructed by the various ethnic groups that made up the city’s faithful. The French-Spanish-African Creoles had the original St. Louis cemeteries in Faubourg Treme and Faubourg St. John. The Irish built the St. Patrick’s cemeteries at the head of Canal Street, and the Germans had their cemeteries dedicated to St. Joseph on Washington Avenue.

new orelans history - all souls

“Ovens” in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (Mugnier photo)

The heat and humidity of the city’s climate takes its toll on those structures. They require periodic maintenance. Families share tombs. They also share the maintenance duties.

One Big Picnic

So, the adult children go out to the cemetery with Grandma on All Saints Day. The kids come along, of course. So the scene in the cemeteries was often quite festive. Everyone spruced up their tomb. What started as work details became picnics where families that grew apart would come together for a very worthy cause. Siblings and cousins could catch up with each other, and Grandma was able to go to the cemetery regularly for another year with her head held high.



 Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, All Saints and All Souls!

Podcast 21 – St. Augustine Catholic Church in the Treme

Podcast 21 – St. Augustine Catholic Church in the Treme

St. Augustine Catholic Church

st. augustine catholic church

St. Augustine Church, from Snippets of New Orleans, by Emma Fick (Edward Branley photo)

St. Augustine Catholic Church – Podcast!

NOLA History Guy Podcast this week is a “snippet” – a short presentation on an illustration from Emma Fick’s book, Snippets of New Orleans. So, we chose Emma’s illustration of St. Augustine Catholic Church for this week While there are three “St. Augustines” in New Orleans, this is the oldest.

Bishop Blanc dedicated St. Augustine Catholic Church October 9, 1842. Therefore, it is to this day, the spiritual nexus for Creoles of Color who are Catholic.

Faubourg Treme

st. augustine catholic church

Faubourg Treme, including “Divo Augustino R.C” Church, Robinson Atlas (courtesy New Orleans Notarial Archives)

The Treme neighborhood dates back to the Morand Plantation. Claude Treme bought the land in 1792. So, shortly after this transaction, the city built the Carondelet Canal, which connected the French Quarter with Lake Pontchartrain by water, via Bayou St. John. The canal’s business opportunities attracted commercial and light industrial ventures along its banks. Residential neighborhoods grew out on either side of the canal. This area attracted a number of free people of color, who spoke French and identified more closely with the French-Spanish Creoles of the Vieux Carre’ than the Anglo-Irish in the “American Sector.”

These Creoles of Color bought lots in Treme and built homes. By the 1830s, their numbers were large enough that they went to then-Bishop (later Archbishop) Antoine Blanc, and petitioned him to create a Catholic parish for their neighborhood. Bishop Blanc agreed. Therefore, the community began work to raise money and build their own church, so they didn’t have to walk down to St. Louis Cathedral to go to Mass.

St. Augustine Catholic Church (Infrogmation photo)

The neighborhood built their church on land donated by the Ursuline Sisters. So, the nuns asked that the church be named in honor of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of their order’s patrons.

The Tomb of the Unknown Slave

st. augustine catholic church

Tomb of the Unknown Slave (Infrogmation photo)

Snippets of New Orleans

st. augustine catholic

Snippets of New Oleans by Emma Fick (Edward Branley photo)

You can buy Emma’s wonderful book at all of the usual suspects, including Octavia Books.

Trusted Talents

st. augustine catholic

NOLA History Guy Podcast is sponsored this week by Elysian Fields Press, publishers of Edward J. Branley’s latest novel, Trusted Talents.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday in New Orleans

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday in New Orleans

Good Friday is still a day off for many businesses in New Orleans.

Good Friday

St. Henry’s Church, Uptown (courtesy Infrogmation)

Like many local traditions, those surrounding Holy Week have become blurred as our world becomes more secular.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers focused on religion so much more. Grandma and Great-Grandma took Holy Thursday and Good Friday much more seriously. They build up to the big celebration of the Resurrection.

Holy Week

The story of the Passion of Jesus Christ (well, at least the Catholic version, anyway) usually begins on the Sunday before Easter. On the liturgical calendar, this is Palm Sunday. The story of Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem is told at Mass. The faithful sharpen their spiritual focus for the climax of Lent. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week don’t really involve changes in the regular routine. Those who went to weekday Mass kept doing so. Kids went to school. That’s changed in recent times. Families escape home for a few days on the Mississippi/Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast. (In recent years, that trend has reversed, particularly with high schools. Because parents can’t seem to tell their kids no, the schools remain in session on Monday thru Wednesday. The underage drinkers and drivers can’t run to Florida for spring break.)

So, on Wednesday, kids dash out of school in the afternoo. They anticipate a break that runs at a minimum to the following Tuesday. Some schools take all of the following week off. Either way, the family’s home on Thursday, and that’s important, because there was work to be done. Momma had to make sure the family had clothes ready for not only the Big Day, Easter, but for Mass Thursday night and Friday’s religious activities. Food was also a big issue on Holy Thursday, because everyone was going to be at the big Mass that evening. Friday involved the Nine Sisters, so that meant there wouldn’t be much time for cooking then, either.

Holy Thursday

The first big liturgical event since Palm Sunday is Mass on Holy Thursday. It’s usually one big parish event, featuring the “washing of the feet”. While every celebration of the Eucharist is a remembrance of the Last Supper, this is the one that syncs with the calendar.

As a kid growing up in the late-sixties/early-seventies, the one thing about Holy Thursday’s Mass that always struck me were the “smells and bells”. This was the time when the instructions from the Second Vatican Council were starting to kick in full-on, and two big themes that stood out in the mind of a fifth-grade altar boy were the transition of the liturgy from Latin to English, and the toning down of the various ceremonies. Even in parishes that had pastors totally committed to Vatican II, Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday were “High Mass” days, complete with the choir, the good vestments, incense, and ritual.

The choir worked overtime on Holy Thursday, singing before Mass, leading the congregation in singing the responses during Mass itself, then singing while the church was “stripped” of all the linens, and the statues were covered for Good Friday observances. Once the church was stripped, we reached the part in the script where bad things happen, so the choir ended, and everyone went home.

Good Friday

Good Friday

Good Friday at St. Louis Cathedral, circa 1910s (Detroit Publishing photo in the public domain)

Good Friday is the most solemn day in the liturgical year. Observing the death of Jesus meant quiet time for the kids in many devout households. It also meant unsupervised time, as the men and women of the neighobrhood either observed Good Friday at the parish church, by pitching in to do clean-up work, or even just kneel in prayer for a large part of the day. In Uptown New Orleans, Good Friday meant walking the Nine Sisters. Visiting nine churches on Good Friday is a French-Spanish tradition that can be traced back to the Spanish Colonial period. Given the distance covered in the traditional Uptown-to-Downtown walk, the tradition was either also observed in Germany, or the Germans and the Irish picked up on it from the Creoles of the city.

Nine Churches

Why nine churches? There’s a lot of speculation on that one. The closest thing to a nine that ties with Holy Week is that there are nine days from Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Of course, these events happen weeks after Good Friday, but let’s not quibble. In modern times, the list of nine churches has been expanded to fourteen, a more-logical number, since there are fourteen Stations of the Cross.

The route of the Nine Sisters: Start at St. Stephen’s on Napoleon Avenue, Walk around the corner to St. Henry’s, on Berlin Street (Now General Pershing St.) From there, walk to Our Lady of Good Counsel, on Louisiana Avenue at Chestnut Street. Since the post-Katrina consolidations of parishes done by the archdiocese, all three of these churches are part of the same parish, under the same pastoral management. The seat of the parish is St. Stephen’s, but they open the other two until noon for Good Friday devotions.

Good Friday

Notre Dame de Bon Secours, on Jackson Avenue, antebellum period

The Old Redemptorist Parish

The next church has varied over the years. Most likely, it was Notre Dame de Bon Secours (Our Lady of Prompt Succor), the “French” church of the three churches that made up the “Redemptorist parish” that serviced the Garden District and the Irish Channel. After that church burned down in the 19th Century, the faithful most likely stopped at the chapel at the residence of the Redemptorists, on Prytania and Third Streets.

Nowadays, the Redemptorists are gone from New Orleans. The order sold their Third Street residence to Anne Rice, who told the Catholics of the Garden District to go down to St. Mary’s Assumption, on Constance and Josephine Streets, in Da Channel. The wealthy folk of the Garden District opted to resurrect the old Notre Dame church, in an interesting way. When the church we know as St. Mary’s Assumption was constructed in the 1850s, the Germans dismantled the wooden church that was on that corner, moving it to St. Joseph Cemetery, on Washington Avenue and LaSalle Street.

Return to Uptown

It stayed there for 150 years, serving as a mortuary chapel. That chapel was moved to Jackson Avenue, so now it becomes the Fourth Sister, in the 1500 block of Jackson Avenue. From St. Mary’s Chapel, the path turns towards the river, and the faithful stop next at St. Alphonsus. St. Alphonsus is the “Irish church” of the Redemptorist parish. After performing their Veneration of the Cross at St. Alphonsus, the next Sister is directly across the street, St. Mary’s Assumption.

After stopping in at the “German church”, it’s a ten-block walk to the Seventh Sister, St. Theresa of Avila, on Erato Street, in the Lower Garden District. From there, the second-to-last stop is the other Irish parish, St. Patrick’s on Camp Street, in the Warehouse District. From there, the trek ends at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, better known as “Jesuits’ Church” on Baronne Street in the CBD. Then followed the walk back to Jefferson City or Faubourg Bouligny.

Holy Week Food

good friday

Gumbo z’Herbes, Fried Chicken, and Cornbread at Dookey Chase on Orleans Avenue (photo courtesy Mary Ehret of Native Palate)

It’s only logical that momma wouldn’t want to cook a lot of food on Good Friday. After all, that walk from Napoleon Avenue to Canal and Baronne in town is a big effort. Even if you take the streetcar back, a big chunk of your day is used up. No time to cook! That’s never been too big a challenge for Creoles and Yats, though. Momma knows how to prepare ahead.

No, the big challenge for Holy Week is the dietary restrictions that used to be enofrced by the Church on Good Friday. Even a lot of good Catholics forget that Lent was much tougher on the faithful than it is now. Lent wasn’t merely a time of paryer and reflection, but also a time of fasting. In this context, “fasting” usually meant having only one meal a day. Coffee and a piece of toast for breakfast, followed by a light lunch, like a hard boiled egg, or maybe a Mrs. Drake’s chicken salad sandwich. Over time, those restrictions were eased; fasting was cut back to just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Good Friday – Fast and abstinence! 

But back in momma’s day, it was fast and abstinence on Good Friday. That meant not only one meal, but no meat! For Catholics in New Orleans, that wasn’t hard to deal with, just eat seafood. Fish, shrimp, oysters, the possibilities were endless.

But, for many of the faithful, substituting fried shrimp or oysters for chicken or pork just wasn’t good enough. There was no sacrifice. Additionally, seafood wasn’t as ubiquitous or inexpensive fifty years ago as it was now. Some folks just couldn’t afford to have a shrimp fry. The common New Orleans solution to the problem of keeping costs down was to make dishes that stretched the resources, like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans that taste like ham because of the bone, but didn’t have any real meat in them. Momma was creative, like her momma before her.

Gumbo z’Herbes

But when it came to making a filling meal with no meat or no shellfish, momma knew what to do. Greens. Herbs. Spices. Momma knew from her Creole ancestors how to make a roux, then combine the green stuff to make Gumbo z’Herbes. The meatless version of our classic thick soup was just the right meal for Good Friday. It’s gumbo, so it’s easy to prepare ahead of time. Momma could put the proper time in to make a roux and let the soup simmer, then put it aside overnight. When she came home from making the Nine Sisters the next day, all she had to do was put the pot back on the fire and heat things up. Judy Walker gives us the recipes for two versions of this wonderful soup in her column.

Gumbo is a filling soup. A good roux of fat and flour, thinned down with water or stock, could be a meal in itself. Add in a lot of green goodness (Chef Leah at Dookey Chase says there are nine different kinds of greens in her gumbo), and you get an even more filling dish. Even when we try to sacrifice, we just can’t make it happen. Gumbo z’Herbes is the closest thing to the “bread of affliction” we’ve got in New Orleans.

Meat in your Gumbo z’Herbes!

When you go to see Chef Leah Chase at her restaurant on Holy Thursday, you get Gumbo z’Herbes and Fried Chicken. Her gumbo is different from the traditional, meatless dish. Why? That should be obvious. She’s not serving it on Good Friday, and the meat she adds makes the soup taste wonderful.


But wait, you say, Ms. Leah has sausage and chicken in her Gumbo z’Herbes! Yes, that’s correct. That’s because she’s serving it on Holy Thursday, when there’s no restriction on meat. Some cooks, when making Gumbo z’Herbes for Good Friday would make extra gumbo base (roux, water, basic stock vegetables) and then whip up a chicken-and-sausage gumbo for dinner on Thursday. If momma was particularly busy, she’s just make extra Gumbo z’Herbes, adding the meat. The irony of gumbo during Holy Week is that it’s a wonderful food that doesn’t distract from the important devotional activities.

It’s why folks from everywhere else just don’t understand us.