Small Town Churches

When I first began my historic church column, I fell in love with the people, history and that unique presence that lives inside these heavenly havens. I’ll never forget my first assignment hauling all kinds of gear including my recorder, camera bag, tripod and notebook. It was the beginning of a new calling, a passion that continues to grow.

As I sat down to write that first article, I studied the photographs and listened closely to the recording. The words began to flow devoted to the language of art, architecture and the generations who built these lordly monuments.

I returned with several copies of the magazine and they were overwhelmed with appreciation. One prominent member of the church took me to the side, holding the magazine close to her chest, she said, “Ms. Burst you have found your ministry, God has given you a gift.”

That was 12 years ago and I have honored that ministry with a long list of articles and two books. I continue my quest to share more of Louisiana churches in my Louisiana’s Sacred Places series of books. I’m currently researching churches for my next book due out 2016. If you would like to recommend a church, please leave a comment below.

Until then, enjoy this post as I share some of my favorite churches across the Louisiana back roads and towns along the way.

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St Martin de Tours church, St. Martinville, LA


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St Martin de Tours church altar, St. Martinville, LA


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Our Lady of Peace Meditation Chapel, Columbia, LA.


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Our Lady of Peace Meditation Chapel interior, Columbia, LA

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Old country church on backroads of Pointe Coupee Parish, LA


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United Methodist nave, Jackson, LA


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United Methodist upstairs pew window, Jackson, LA


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Lourdes chapel, Lacombe, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Autographed books available via this website.


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St Francis Church, River Road near New Roads, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Autographed books available via this website.


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St Francis Church interior, River Road near New Roads, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Autographed books available via this website.


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St. Stephens, Innis, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Autographed books available via this website.


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St. Stephens interior, Innis, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Autographed books available via this website


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Christ Episcopal Church, Covington, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Hallowed Halls of Greater New Orleans. Autographed books available via this website


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Christ Episcopal Church pews, Covington, LA. Church and history featured in my book, Hallowed Halls of Greater New Orleans. Autographed books available via this website


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Trinity Lutheran, Abita Springs, LA


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Trinity Lutheran church altar, Abita Springs, LA


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Clinton Baptist church, Clinton, LA


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Covington Presbyterian Church, Covington, LA


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Church on the bayou, Gibson, LA


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Interior of church on the bayou, Gibson, LA


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Natchitoches Hwy 119 church, LA


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Mount Olivet Episcopal Church, Algiers, New Orleans, LA


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Pharr Chapel United Methodist Church, Morgan City, LA

Louisiana cemeteries that leave you dying for more…

Louisiana enjoys a melange of cultures and customs blurring the lines between the sacred and the profane. It is here you will find Louisiana’s cities of the dead, tombs shrouded with weeping oaks and the Creole tradition of lighting the graves. Each with its own personality, from the ornate to the Gothic, these photos are a fitting tribute to a soulful state that celebrates death with the same joyous zeal as they celebrate life. New Orleans cemeteries are available for tours and most country cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk.

Unlike other sites, these pictures are part of my ongoing work in documenting the beauty of Louisiana’s historic cemeteries. I’m a Louisiana local, a professional writer and photographer, and all the photos are originals and copyrighted.*

1. St. Louis No. 1, New Orleans

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 Just outside the French Quarter, ghastly but poignant neighbors share common grounds with New Orleans trailblazers, politicians, and Voodoo queens.

2. St. Louis No. 3, New Orleans

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       Here amid an oncoming cool front, storm clouds funnel a soft glow across a row of tombs inside St. Louis No. 3 cemetery

3. St. Roch Cemetery, New Orleans

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People still believe in the miracles of St. Roch which is evidenced inside a small room on the right-hand side of the St. Roch chapel altar.  In what appears to be a ghastly torture chamber is in fact a collage of heart-felt stories that give thanks to St. Roch for healing minds, bodies and souls.

4. Holt Cemetery, New Orleans

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Not far from City Park, tucked away behind a college parking lot, Holt Cemetery is New Orleans’ only underground graveyard.

5. Metairie Lake Lawn Cemetery, New Orleans

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One of the more prominent cemeteries in New Orleans, Metairie Lake Lawn Cemetery is known for its elaborate stained glass windows.

6. Night of the Dead, Lacombe Cemeteries

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The lighting of the cemeteries, an All Saints Day tradition shard by Creole families, descended from Early Native American, African American and French settlers.

7. Covington Cemetery

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Resurrection vines crawl across the sprawling oak branches paying tribute to the pioneers and heroes who founded and built the historic town of Covington.

8. Madisonville Cemetery, Madisonville

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A courageous group of locals have restored this 200-plus-year cemetery along the banks of the Techfuncte River in Madisonville. There are many stories of hauntings including a mother looking for her children after the entire family drown when their car plunged into the river.

9. Grace Church, St. Francisville

st F wide treesShadows of the past come alive inside a ghoulish art exhibit shrouded by weeping strands of moss and poetic epitaphs of beloved children, prominent aristocrats and fallen war heroes.

10. Jewish Cemetery, Hwy 10 near Clinton

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Past the stoic wrought iron fence under a deep perimeter of towering pines and oaks, marble and granite monuments lay claim to many Jewish souls. Among them, were early cotton merchants that helped build Clinton’s commercial and cultural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

11. Clinton Confederate Cemetery, Clinton

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The town of Clinton in East Feliciana Parish owns a rich history of cemeteries and home to Confederate heroes inside the Clifton Confederate Cemetery.

12. Port Hudson National Cemetery, Zachary

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The Port Hudson Cemetery is a national cemetery that began as a resting place for both Union and Confederate soldiers that died during the siege of Port Hudson. Burials began in 1863, and today the cemetery is at capacity home to 13,000 former members of the US Military and their spouses.

13. St. Stephens Episcopal Church Cemetery, Innis 

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Located behind St. Stephens Church, built in a Gothic Revival architecture, both the church and cemetery were consecrated in 1859. The grounds is located along HWY 418 a country road skirting the Mississippi River where every turn is a history lesson.

14. St. Francis Chapel cemetery, New Roads

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St. Francis was the first church in the region and began the move to Christianity in 1728, the church was built ten years later.

15. Holy Rosary Cemetery, Larose

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Don’t be turned away by rainy days when shooting cemeteries, this beauty was found after taking a u-turn looking for another cemetery. Right after parking, the rain stopped and nature provided a fitting reflection for the eternal abodes.

16. Southdown Cemetery, Houma

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Both a sobering and eloquent display, Southdown Cemetery is home to children’s graves filled with their favorite toys. This picture was taken against a brutal sky from a wicked line of thunderstorms. Not a drop fell during the photo shoot, perhaps the children loved the attention and willed away the encroaching storms.

17. St. Mary Cemetery, Raceland

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Raised brick tombs of this design were built for families accommodating 2-12 burials above the ground. Most brick tombs were plastered, but in this case it appears the tombs are struggling with decay. The dates are in the 1870s.

18. Young Family Cemetery, Zachary

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Along a winding country road, the Young Family Cemetery was first used to bury the children of James Young with land donated in 1874. The grounds were thick with chestnuts and filled with squirrels scampering across the tombstones.

 19. Morgan City Cemetery, Morgan City

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The Morgan City Cemetery is a stunning example of different cultures that have come together in the after-life. It is also home to the gravesite of Ada Bonner Leboeuf, the first woman to hang in Louisiana in 1929, a crime even today is still being researched. Could her spirit still be lingering among the weeping moss?

20. Old Jackson Cemetery, Jackson

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 In the historic town of Jackson, Louisiana, the Old Jackson Cemetery is home to Confederate War heroes. The cemetery is open for viewing from dawn to dusk and the town is filled with many nationally recognized historic buildings and churches.

*The prose and many of the pictures in this post are from my book Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Churches, Cemeteries and Voodoo. Print and ebook are available on Amazon or order autographed copies via this website.

Self-publishing tips

Hello my fellow aspiring authors,

First let me give you a quick background. I’m a freelance writer/author/photographer, and this is my second career after I freed myself from the bondage of corporate Hell. I returned to college when my children were in high school and finished my degree from Tulane University in New Orleans with a BA in Media Arts. That was 2003, and now 12 years later I have a good 1,000 articles published with twice as many photographs gracing the pages of local, regional and national pubs.

Two years ago when the magazine market began to shrink I turned to books releasing my first book Hallowed Halls of New Orleans: Churches, Cathedrals and Sanctuaries in 2013. It was published by History Press, an appropriate publishing house for a book that was born from a historic church column and ten years of research and photographs. However, my corporate career taught me I should only dedicate my resources to projects that yield profit. Working with a publishing house does have some benefits but marketing and sales isn’t one of them. I had to resolve that part of the equation on my own.

That brings me to my reason for this new series of blog posts. On January 8 2014, I sat teary eyed in the pews of Trinity Episcopal Church on Jackson Avenue in New Orleans. My mentor, Mary Fitzpatrick, a renowned preservationist, astute cultural activist, and editor of Preservation in Print magazine, died suddenly at the age of 64 on New Years Eve 2013 while visiting family in Hendersonville, NC. I was devastated!

Mary saw a budding writer in me, and in my senior year at Tulane she published my first article in the December 2002 issue of Preservation in Print. She continued to support me and sing my praises over the next decade. It was there studying the stained glass windows in a church filled with faithful mourners, my doubts in publishing were answered. Yes Mary’s spirit, karma, whatever it was, reached to me, in an astounding, “What are you waiting for?”

In October 2014 I published my first book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Churches, Cemeteries and Voodoo dedicated to the memory of Mary Fitzpatrick. It was both a nightmare and a dream come true. My book’s acknowledgement shares the laborious journey, from computer and internet crashes to firing my initial printer, I learned from my mistakes. I still have much more to learn, but like anything else, your knowledge grows with experience and in this case, book sales. The more books you sell, the more followers you gain, and the more your marketing strategy changes. Add to that the growing number of promotional tools, and it can be overwhelming.

This blog will be the beginning of a series of self-publishing tips dedicated to the first-time publisher, and with time I will transition to more advanced posts as I progress in this evolving craft of publishing.


Start educating yourself, reading books, following newsletters, signing up for free webcasts. Will your book be fiction or non-fiction. In determining your subject matter research the existing market. Go to the big box stores, what are on the shelves of your genre. Remember your book needs to be unique with a strong marketing base. Develop a timeline of your writing, both short and long range including an estimated publishing date. Document it in your planner or whatever you use to stay on track.


Will it be print, eBook or both? There are several options on print including the less costly On Demand Print used by Amazon Create Space and many other self-publishing websites. Bulk print gives you the opportunity to earn a higher royalty but there’s warehousing the books and moving the books to and from marketing events. Highly recommend not printing over 1,000 books when you are a first-time author. Some writers believe in publishing eBooks first earning enough money to print the books in bulk.

To get you started, I’ve listed some links below that I follow as valued resources in writing, self-publishing, marketing and entrepreneurial tasks.

I also provide a full speaking presentation designed for first time authors and/or self publishers in an online format. Great resource for conferences, book clubs, writing groups, libraries or book stores. Email me for more information or contact me via Facebook, 

Joanna Penn,

Joanna Penn also has several books available including How to Market a Book, which I have read, Public Speaking, Business for Authors, and Career Change. Tutorials: How to Publish a Book 101, 7 Worst Mistakes Indie Authors Make and How to Fix Them, Self-publishing checklist for new authors

Creating Books through blogs

Nina Amir

I’ll be back next week with another lesson in self-publishing. Meanwhile check out my photo galleries of both books and book descriptions. My books are available through Amazon with signed copies offered in sales direct from my website.

Happy Writing…