Just off the bustling Magazine Street in the Irish Channel, the National Shrine of Blessed Father Xavier Seelos welcomes visitors to learn of the mystical life of the “Cheerful Ascetic.” The Redemptorist order established the site to promote the canonization cause of Seelos.
Born Francis Xavier Seelos in Bavaria, Germany in 1819, he eventually pursued a religious life and was ordained by the Redemptorist order in 1842. Seelos traveled to the United States, first residing in New York to minister to German-speaking immigrants. During his lifetime, Seelos witnessed the chaos of the American Civil War. Father Seelos urged President Lincoln to excuse seminarians from military service during the conflict. He transferred to New Orleans in 1866 where his life ended from yellow fever a year later at the age of 48.
An in-depth account of his life is portrayed at the center, which includes a wide range of artifacts including his original lead coffin. His cilice and flagellum are on display in the Walk of Life section of the campus. Hours and days of operation vary and large groups are encouraged to make arrangements in advance.
Know Before You Go
There's a religious gift shop onsite plus numerous boutiques and restaurants nearby. While this place is located in a highly trafficked area, it's not visited by throngs of people. The caliber of the exhibits and the significance of the story are worthy of a global audience.