June 13, 2008 - "Church of the Ascension"

The 80-foot steeple of the Church of the Ascension has dominated the Donaldsonville skyline for well over a century. Inside stained glass depicts the ascension of Jesus to heaven. Other windows date from 1875, 1910, 1935 and 1965--those last three dates being years of major hurricanes. But in the ceiling over the sanctuary there's something of a mystery--a Native American motif that has been there since the church was built.

Church member and guide Louis "Boo" LeBlanc says, "We have a hard time sometimes documenting what the story is about, but we do know that it's an Indian influence that came about because the Indians befriended some of the people, particularly the Acadians, when they come to this country."

It's thought that the green represents the food of life, lightning to ward off evil. Scrolls and birds of prey are symbols of dedication. "The Indians wanted to leave their influence to let it be known that they were part of this congregation," explains LeBlanc.

And here's one that might puzzle even Colombo or Adrian Monk. I'm told that many parishioners don't even know that the Native American design is there. Says LeBlanc, "It could go hardly noticed for a long time even for some of us who have been members of this parish for a long time."

It's a mystery of devotion at the Church of the Ascension.

The Church of the Ascension was built between 1875 and 1896. The parish dates back to 1772.