Cemetary at Rayne’s St. Joseph Catholic Church

Ripleys Believe It Or Not

After the original church at Pouppeville was moved closer to the Rayne Depot, at the current site of Rayne’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, a cemetery was laid-out to the south of the relocated church. Bucking Christian tradition, the graveyard began with the graves placed in a north-south position rather than the traditional east-west position (the east metaphorically representing the beginning of life with the rising of the sun and the west metaphorically representing the ending of life with the setting of the sun). Perhaps the gravedigger did not have a compass.

Perhaps the priest did not oversee the work of a common laborer. Whatever the case, the most commonly accepted version of what happened is that the graves were mislaid and before the mistake was discovered, too many people had been buried; the expense of reburials (not to mention the effect it would have had on the grieving families) was too great a cost. The citizens allowed the cemetery to remain as it had originally been placed, albeit at the expense of being a rarity in the civilized Western world. Such an oddity caught the attention of Robert Ripley, who included the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in his famous newspaper cartoon early in the century. Only recently has the graveyard again been run as an attraction in "Ripley’s Believe It or Not!" and people come from around the world to see the only cemetery in the Judeo-Christian world that faces north-south rather than east-west.

  • In the 1900s, Rayne was a
    leading producer of eggs, sweet potatoes, cotton, and of course, frogs.
  • Rayne holds the all-time
    LA snowfall record - 24 inches
    on February 14 & 15, 1895.
  • Rayne once had a semi-pro
    black baseball team known
    as the Blue Eagles.
  • The Rayne high school six-man football team won the state championship in 1944.
  • In 1908, the town passed
    an ordinance requiring all
    property owners to put down
    plank sidewalks.
  • In 1946, the population of Rayne grew enough that the State Legislature declared
    it a city.
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