Visitors from all over the world come within these walls, not only because of the attractions of tourism, but to pray. People likewise have come to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Catholic Hill in this beautiful town of St. Francisville.
It is our hope that you will spend a few moments in prayer. Above all, you are invited to return and participate in one of our liturgies. Take time to examine some of the outstanding features of the church, many dating back to the original building, begun in 1871. In 1979, the interior was remodeled to correspond with the directives of Vatican Council II.
Spanish Capuchins, a branch of the Franciscan Order, established a church in 1730 in the civil parish of Pointe Coupee across the Mississippi River. It was known as St. Francis Church. It remains today as a chapel. Because of the floodwater which occurred every year, and there were no levies, burial of the dead was impossible. So they brought the dead to be buried on the higher bluffs, above Bayou Sara, a thriving port town. They established a graveyard just beyond the hill. The settlement that grew around the graveyard took its name from the ‘church’ and was called St. Francisville.
It was on a visit to St. Francisville that the Archbishop of New Orleans, the Most Reverend N.J. Perche urged the people of the community to build a church. He established the parish in 1871.
Prior to this time, a priest who came once a month from Jackson and Clinton served the Catholic community. Mass was said on these occasions in different homes and sometimes in the courthouse.
Mount Carmel church was built exclusively of native woods, with cypress doors, window and doorframes, while the beams and columns are solid longleaf pine. It is said that General P. T. G. Beauregard designed the plans. A local family donated the semi-circular window with the church’s title over the main entrance in 1951.
It is our hope that your visit to Catholic Hill was pleasurable and that you will come again.