St. Roch chapel, yellow fever shrine
New Orleans, Louisiana
There's a cemetery in the neighborhood of St. Roch (pronounced "rock"). At the center of that cemetery is a chapel. Inside that chapel, in a small room behind an iron gate, rows of prosthetic legs hang from the peeling walls. On shelves beneath sit plaster feet and false teeth, and a few pairs of artificial eyeballs.
Dedicated in 1867, the chapel honors St. Roch, who is associated with good health and healing. Born in the 14th century in Montpellier, Majorca -- now part of France -- St. Roch is said to have cared for and cured plague victims in Italy.
When a yellow fever epidemic hit 19th-century New Orleans, Reverend Peter Thevis, the pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, prayed to St. Roch for relief and promised to build a shrine to him if the members of his parish were protected from the disease.