Thursday, September 6, 2012

Evangeline & St. Martinville, LA

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in 1847AD, is surely one of the great epic poems ever produced by an American author.

Evangeline Monument next to St. Martin Church, St. Martinville, Louisiana. [Photo by author]

The story recounts the expulsion of the Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia in Canada, and their eventual settlement in the bayous of Louisiana.  The particular focus, of course, is upon a girl named Evangeline and her personal trials and her tragic relationship with a fellow named Gabriel.  If you have never read the poem, I don't wish to spoil the tale -- and you can read it here: Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

Map of Louisiana highlighting Saint Martin Parish
Location of St. Martin Parish in Louisiana.  St. Martinville lies in the northern of the two sections.

The end point of this tale is the charming town of St. Martinville, Louisiana in St. Martin Parish.  St. Martinville, first settled in 1765 and incorporated in 1817, is one of the oldest towns in the Cajun area of Louisiana, and sits just south of Lafayette on Bayou Teche.  It would be a center of settlement for the displaced Acadians, who became Cajuns, and later of French exiled from the Revolution or those fleeing the epidemics of New Orleans -- giving the town the nickname of Le Petit Paris.

  Images of the Church of St. Martin in St. Martinville, LA. [Photos by the author]

The town is the home of the oldest parish in Cajun country, St. Martin de Tours Church, which sits on the town square in the center of the village.  This parish Church is known as the Mother Church of the Acadians and boasts a baptismal font donated by King Louis XVI of France.

Image of the Evangline Oak in St. Martinville, LA. [Photo by author]

Of course, the town is also famous for both its monument to Evangeline, pictured above, which sits behind the parish Church of St. Martin, at the burial place of the historical Evangeline.  Also, next to Bayou Teche is the splendid live oak, the Evangeline Oak, made famous by the poem of Longfellow.

Live well!

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