Nine Churches Walk

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About the Nine Churches Walk

Jesus’ description of a disciple as one who denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows him is by no means an easy saying (either to live or to understand). It produces the same confusion that confronts a believer in calling the day on which Jesus was brutally tortured and crucified “Good Friday.” How can anyone call this day “good”? Good Friday is the premiere day in the liturgical cycle that challenges Christians not to look away from the evil in the world nor from the suffering endured to overcome it. This day challenges believers to say a resounding ‘yes’ to the suffering Christ experienced for their sakes, even saying ‘yes’ to the suffering in their own lives for the salvation of the world. The Church Father Origen says it best when he says, “It was fitting not only that the Savior should take his own cross but that we also should bear it, fulfilling our being pressed into service in the cause of salvation.”

With this purpose, the Jesuit High School community takes to the streets of New Orleans on Good Friday each year for the Nine Churches Walk. Visiting churches rooted in New Orleans history and garnished with striking architecture, participants are invited to walk in pilgrimage imitating the way of the cross endured by the Lord Jesus. At each church participants are invited to listen to a brief history of the parish given by pilgrimage historian Brandon Briscoe ’98. The group then prays one or two of the Stations of the Cross, accompanied by reflections composed in 2005 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. After a few moments of prayer in the church, the group makes its way to the next station church.

The origins of the Nine Churches Walk, like most traditions in New Orleans, remain somewhat obscure. Some sources say that the number of churches reflects the tradition of praying nine days of a novena for a particular petition. Others cite the tradition in Rome of praying the Stations of the Cross at a different church on each of the forty day in Lent. Whatever the origins, the tradition manifests the vibrancy of the Catholic faith for centuries in Louisiana as an integral part of the region’s culture.

Pilgrimage Details

The uptown route begins at St. Stephen’s Church (part of Good Shepherd Parish). Participants are welcome to gather around 8:15 a.m. in preparation for the pilgrimage to begin at 8:30 a.m. with some introductory remarks followed by the first station. From there the procession will follow the order of churches listed below.

Although Good Friday is a fasting day, participants may choose to bring a light snack and water for the walk. It is also recommended to check the weather forecast for the appropriate dress, noting that sunscreen or a hat may be helpful. Participants should also be prepared to walk 5-6 miles through the course of the morning. The walk ends at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church around 1:30 p.m., and participants should arrange their own ride back to their vehicles after the walk.

We will be live updating our location and progress along the Nine Churches route via Twitter — follow us @SocietyOfJaysus.

Churches Visited

St. Stephen’s Church 1045 Napoleon Ave.
St. Henry’s Church 812 General Pershing St.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Church 1235 Louisiana Ave.
St. Mary’s Assumption Church 919 Josephine St.
St. Alphonsus Church 2030 Constance St.
St. Theresa of Avila Church 1404 Erato St.
St. Patrick’s Church 724 Camp St.
St. Louis Cathedral 615 Pere Antoine Alley
Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church 130 Baronne St.