In 1764, French ruled New Orleans signed the Treaty of Fountainbleau which turned the city over to Spanish rule. The French citizens of the city were infuriated. When the Spanish came to take control of their new territory, the citizens rebelled and staged a revolt. They succeeded, chasing off the Spanish government. Spain was not to be beaten so easily, however. They sent a fully armed Spanish fleet to put down the rebellion. The leaders of the French rebellion were quickly rounded up and put to death. As an example to demoralize the people, the new Spanish rulers declared that the bodies would lie out in front of the government offices of the Cabildo to remind everyone of their defeat. They would be denied burial, and last rites. This was devastating to a Catholic City. Pere Dagobert, the pastor of the church, tried to appeal to the Spanish to relent, but he met with no success. Not to be defeated, Pere Dagobert prayed for a miracle.
The miracle came in the form of a fierce rainstorm that drove the 2,000 Spanish troops that were camped outside in what became Jackson Square indoors. For the first time in days and weeks, nobody was outside to keep watch. Pere Dagobert took action. He sent word to families, friends, and neighbors, and in the stormy night they gathered up the bodies, and took them North to the St. Louis Cemetery to bury them. Everyone was urged to stay quiet, but as they passed in that alleyway between the Cabildo and the Cathedral, one voice started to sing a hymn. Another voice joined him, and another until all of them were singing the Kyrie. Even then, no one stirred to stop the funeral procession. No one heard the singing, and they were able to successfully take the men to the St. Louis Cemetery, and bury the bodies with proper rites.
Now, late on stormy nights, they say that if you walk that very alleyway between the St. Louis Cathedral, and the Cabildo, you can hear one lone tenor voice singing the Catholic Kyrie. No apparition ever appears with it, just the song left as a reminder of that night's miracle.
The final story of the night brought us back to the alley between the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral. This was where Ernie told my favorite story. It's one that I'd read and loved before, but hearing Ernie tell it live really brought it home.