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.
Though 40,000 New Orleanians succumbed to yellow fever, Father Thevis' community recorded no losses. The reverend held up his end of the bargain and built the St. Roch chapel and the surrounding cemetery. The gates opened to the public in 1876.
A room in the chapel has since become filled with offerings left by those in need of healing -- as well as people who have prayed to St. Roch and recovered. Bricks on the ground are inscribed with the word "thanks" and littered with coins. Children's polio braces, crutches, and false limbs line the walls, interspersed with praying hands, rosaries, and figurines.