Related Links:

The Lowdown on






The Lowdown on Laveau

The 1801 baptismal certificate holds long-lost truth
about legendary voodoo priestess, researcher claims

After 15 years researching the legendary voodoo queen of New Orleans, Ina Fandrich has learned to doubt claims about Marie Laveau. But the professor of religious studies at Louisiana State University said she recently discovered a document that confirms several disputed facts, including the date and place of Laveau's birth.Laveau's power as a black spiritual figure of the 19th century - her magic potions sought by slaves and their master alike - has drawn strenghth from mystery about her life.

Her mother a slave and father a French planter, she was one of several Marie Laveaus living at the time. It's been difficult to cull definitive documents about the self-professed "popes of voodoo," who draws thousand to grave iste debated by historians.Researchers, including Fandrich, for some time have tried to verify Laveau's birth date based on an obituary that says Laveau was 98 when she died in 1881

- something most accepted as fact."I looked for years and years based on a fact that was wrong," Fandrich said. "I finally can dispel all this mystery. But in a way, I'm sad. She's now a concrete being.

"A key finding
After decades of debate about Laveau's age at the time of her death, and whether she was born in the Crescent City or Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, Fandrich said she's discovered that the voodoo queen was born "a free mulatto girl child" Sept. 10, 1801, in New Orleans.The information comes from a baptismal certificate found in an untranslated and unpublished book in the Archdiocese of New Orleans archives, Fandrich said."I kept it quiet at first," Fandrich said.

Now, she's staking a claim Laveau researchers have long sought, a claim to be included in a book about Laveau to be published this spring.The baptismal certificate, written in Spanish, provides only a first name for the baby and for her mother, Margarita, and lists the father as unknown.

But Fandrich is certain that it is the record of Laveau's baptism on Sept.16, 1801, by Pere Antoine at St. Louis Cathedral six days after her birth.The detail that pushes the certificate beyond the realm of mere coincidence, in Fandrich's view, is that the godmother is listed as Catarina, the same name as Laveau's maternal grandmother:

Fandrich said she was led to look at baptisms recorded around at baptisms recorded around 1801 by information from Laveau's daughter Marie Philomene's birth certificate in 1836, which says Laveau was "about" 35 at the time, and from the marriage contract in the notary record that says she was a minor - a month shy of 18 - when she married Jacques Paris on Aug. 4, 1819.

Questions, Comments, Dead Links? Email Webmaster
**All articles taken from selected reading materials are the sole property of the authors listed. In no way are these articles credited to this site. The material presented is only a brief presentation of writings from the publisher & producer of each article.
Copyright French Creoles of America®, All Rights Reserved