At 189 years old, St. Michael Church in Convent, St. James Parish, is one of the oldest churches in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
Deacon Alfred Adams says visitors come from all over to see the church. And, He pointed to three things that make the church special.
1. The Lourdes Grotto
The Lourdes Grotto is tucked behind the altar of St. Michael and was inspired by the famous vision of Our Lady of Lourdes. Since 1876, Catholics have come to the grotto to pray and leave personal items when their prayers are answered.
The grotto is unique to St. James Parish because its altar is made of shells collected from the river. And, the "rocks" which make up the Lourdes Grotto at St. Michael Church are actually bagasse. Bagasse is a product of the sugar-making process, which is an important industry in St. James Parish.
2. The Henry Erben Organ
Deacon Adams says the church's Henry Erben pipe organ in the oldest working organ of its kind in Louisiana. The organ came to the church by boat in 1857. For decades, it wasn't in use. About ten years ago, the church refurbished the organ.
3. The Lamb of God
Artistic representations of the Lamb of God are common in Catholic churches. But, the lamb above the altar in St. Michael is different. It looks like it's looking at you. All the time. No matter where you walk in the church.
Deacon Adams says the explanation for the phenomenon is probably simple. The lamb is painted on the inside of a dome. But, he tells children that the lamb appears to always be watching you because Jesus is always watching you.