Deep in Louisiana, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, lies the result of one woman's vision. A vision of God led to the most picturesque one-room chapel among the cypress trees along the Blind River in St. James Parish. And it's only accessible by boat.
Our Lady of Blind River Chapel was built in 1983 by Martha Deroch and her husband Bobby Deroche. Martha's vision of Jesus involved him kneeling by a rock, and it led her to firmly believe that God was asking her to build a church. After the couple had moved to their hunting camp along the water, she had been concerned about being able to regularly go to church. Her vision was the answer to all of her concerns.
Though Bobby's carpentry skills came in handy, Martha's daughter Pat Hymel told Associated Press News that building the Catholic chapel was a community effort with friends and neighbors jumping in to help.
"Only way you can get here is by boat. I think that's why it was so special to a lot of people ... being out in nature, way out in an area of such beauty," said Hymel.
The pews and shingles were created from the cypress trees surrounding the little chapel. A statue of the Virgin Mary, which stands in the middle of the room, was also crafted in a cypress tree from the swamp. Paintings of religious scenes, rosaries and crosses also adorn the chapel.
Both Martha and Bobby have passed on and the property is now maintained by their grandson Lance Weber, who lives next door to the chapel. Care of the chapel has been difficult as bad weather makes it easy for the little building to flood. Weber plans on making additions to the chapel such as a new boat dock for boaters and kayakers.
When the chapel was first constructed the Deroche's gathered up handwritten prayers from volunteers that were put inside the steeple. Weber plans to take them out to put them inside of a waterproof container for safekeeping before putting them back inside.
The little church is full of love, which is probably why people from far and wide come out to visit. Weber has had the place closed down recently for safety concerns. After extensive repair work, the chapel will be back up and running like it was during its prime.
This post was originally published on August 6, 2019.