Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church is situated in downtown New Orleans, just off the main thoroughfare of Canal Street. The catholic church has its roots in the College of Immaculate Conception founded by the Jesuits in 1847 on the corner of Baronne and Common streets. Construction on the church began in 1851, and the building was dedicated on Aug. 15, 1857.
Irreparable damage to the building was caused by nearby construction in the 1920s, and Immaculate Conception was closed on April 29, 1928. However, the building was not demolished. Instead, it was carefully disassembled and rebuilt into the structure that stands today as an exact copy of the original. The current church was dedicated on March 2, 1930.
The church was designed by Father John Cabiaso to mimic the Moorish churches of Spain, which explains the arabesque arches, onion-domed altars and the geometric ornamentation. The church also features hundreds of Stars of David, homage to the period in which Cabiaso lived during which Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in peace.
The beautiful stained glass windows were created in France, Germany and America. The windows on the ground floor depict some of the first Jesuits, including St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Jesuit martyrs of North America.
The circular windows imitate early medieval artistry and contain Stations of the Cross. There are 18 stations of the cross because the windows predate the 20th century decision to limit the number of stations to the current 14.
Thirty-six American-made stained glass windows on the gallery level, which is normally locked, show images of various saints. On a third level are windows of geometric design.
At the rear of the church is a large stained glass rose window, at the center of which is the head of Christ, above the choir loft.
The bronze altar dates to 1867, and was designed by renowned New Orleans architect James Freret. It won first prize in the Parish Exposition of 1867-68. It was constructed in Lyons, France.