THIBODAUX, La. - Walk into St. Joseph Co-Cathedral at 721 Canal Boulevard in Thibodaux, and you might feel as if you're overseas. This Romanesque-style church had a stark white interior until 1948, when painters transformed the walls and ceilings to complement the incredible stained glass.
"Small country churches are just as reverent and beautiful in their own way, but this is just overwhelming," says Renee Guillot, who has been the church secretary for 13 years. The co-cathedral has a special place in her heart because she grew up mesmerized by the ceiling; she says even as an adult she often finds herself distracted by the poignant beauty of the place.
It's a co-cathedral because it shares the "cathedral" title with St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Houma. The diocese of Houma and Thibodaux was established in 1977, but the records for St. Joseph Co-Cathedral go back to the early 1800s.
Toward the front of the building, there's a wax figure enclosed in glass, said to represent Saint Valerie, the patron saint of Thibodaux. She is invoked for protection from storms and floods. A precious relic from her arm is said to be stored inside this figure, and she's been a Catholic treasure since 1868, surviving storms and even a fire in 1916.
No matter what your religion, your spirits will be lifted by a visit to this magnificent place! If you know you'll be headed to Thibodaux and have time for a tour, call the church office and arrange to meet with the volunteer tour guide. He's happy to share the history of this amazing place with people from around the world.
The spectacular stained glass windows are the stars of the show and they tell familiar stories for anyone who follows the Catholic faith.
"The lower windows, the larger stained glass windows, are the life of Christ, the smaller ones at the very top are the sacraments: Holy Orders, Baptism, Confirmation, Communion," explains Renee.
To truly appreciate the colors, come to the cathedral on a late afternoon on a sunny day.
Mass times and more info can be found by clicking here.