New Orleans: Haunted Legends and Mysteries- Marie Laveau’s Tomb
Rounding out our Haunted Legends and Mysteries series, we’re taking a trip to Saint Louis No. 1 Cemetery, where you’ll find the final resting place of the iconic New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
There’s no actual record of Marie’s birth, but it is believed that she was born in 1801 in the French Quarter. A free woman of color, Marie grew up in New Orleans, and in 1819 married Jacques Paris. Marie’s life was surrounded by mystery and intrigue, starting early on when her first two daughters and her husband disappeared without a trace. From that moment on, Marie was known as the “Widow Paris” for the remainder of her life, and her tomb shares this name as well.
Part of Marie’s story paints her as a hairdresser for wealthy white women who knew their secrets were always safe with Marie. Her obituaries portray her as a devout Catholic that nursed the sick, ministered to prisoners, and worked as a healer. Her involvement with Voodoo often creates a sense of mystique about Marie, but Voodoo is often misunderstood by many to be something that belongs in horror movies and ghostly tales.
In fact, New Orleans Voodoo is more a marriage of religions, believed to be the blending of the practices of African and Haitian slaves with the Catholic traditions that were so intertwined in the New Orleans culture. However, because Voodoo practices were often celebrated in secret in Congo Square, located in Louis Armstrong Park, it struck fear in the white community, who simply didn’t understand it.
Stories tell of how Marie would attend these celebrations, give advice, heal troubled souls, and conjure the Great Serpent Spirit. She soon rose to the position of high priestess, proudly wearing her Queen of Voodoo crown.
The Widow Paris Tomb in Saint Louis No. 1 Cemetery
Marie died peacefully in her cottage at 1020 St. Ann Street in New Orleans. The cottage was demolished in 1907, but stories say Marie still roams the grounds if you want to dare a walk by. But, Marie was interred in a tomb in St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery. Her tomb quickly became the central figure in many an eerie tale, and unfortunately, not all visitors to The Widow Paris’s Tomb showed it the respect it deserved. Marie’s tomb was repeatedly vandalized, eventually making the Archdiocese and New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries shut the cemetery down to tourists in 2015. Now, if you want to get a glimpse of the tomb (and perhaps Marie herself) you must enter with a licensed tour guide. Still, there are people who find a way to this tomb to practice Voodoo ceremonies and attempt to reach out to the powerful Voodoo Queen, asking for her help.
Currently, tours of the cemetery are closed due to Covid-19, but you can check with the cemetery to keep up-to-date on when tours might resume. In the meantime, if you’re itching to explore a cemetery or two, each with its own unique resident haunts, consider the Cemetery Tour with Haunted History Tours. You’ll hear chilling tales and see some of these intriguing (and beautiful) “Cities of the Dead,” that are unlike any graveyards you’ll see anywhere else.