Interview with Saint Roch Cemetery sexant Albert Hattier excerpted from the video documentary View From the Stoop. Independent filmmaker Karen Snyder produced the film in the early 1980s after the late University of New Orleans historian Joe Logsdon suggested that she consider a documentary treatment of stoop sitting and street culture in New Orleans. View From the Stoop is one of the most significant films produced by the first generation of video documentarians whose careers began at the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC).
The cemetery segment features sextant Mr. Hattier describing his memories of what some have termed "the Creole Good-bye" -- the disappearing tradition of New Orleanians lingering to converse for long periods with their neighbors. It ends with Mr. Hattier's brilliant observation about a common feature for many family tombs.
Retired New Orleans Public Library Archivist Wayne Everard wrote the following for an online exhibit regarding the cemetery:
The most famous feature of the St. Roch Cemetery (1874) is its chapel, a shrine built by Father Peter Leonard Thevis, the pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. In 1868, Father Thevis and his congregation prayed to St. Roch for deliverance from a yellow-fever epidemic, and Father Thevis promised to build a chapel in the saint's honor if the parishioners were spared. The prayers were answered, and Father Thevis kept his promise, building not only the shrine but also a campo santo (cemetery) to surround it. The St. Roch Chapel contains a room where supplicants over the years have placed replicas of human body parts in thanksgiving for cures attributed to the intervention of St. Roch.
Video segment courtesy of Karen Snyder.