Inside a historic New Orleans chapel, a bizarre room has become the final resting place for a variety of prostheses, crutches, and other symbols of maladies. For more than a century, devout visitors have been leaving these macabre tokens as prayers or out of gratitude for a cure to their ailments.
Locks of hair are nailed to the walls. A glass box holds what appear to be glass eyes. Leg braces with attached shoes hang from the wall. Plaster and ceramic replicas of organs and appendages rest on the shelves alongside sets of false teeth. A decaying statue of St. Lucia, patron saint of the blind, holds a platter with two eyes. On the floor, the bricks are inscribed with “Merci” and “Thanks” and covered in a layer of coins.
This room of relics within St. Roch’s Cemetery Chapel is filled with dusty ex-votos, offerings to saints for a miracle well done. There are whispers of a history of voodoo ceremonies and mysterious orbs of light appearing in photos. The rest of the chapel’s narrative, past and present, is equally eccentric.