ST. VALERIE

The waxen figure of a young girl within the reliquary contains a part of the arm of St. Valerie, Virgin-Martyr, a native of Rome who was beheaded during the Christian persecutions in the latter part of the second century.

Father Charles M. Menard, pastor of St. Joseph’s church then located in the eastern outskirts of Thibodaux on Highway One, obtained the relic on a trip to Rome in 1867 in order “to increase among his parishioners, the spirit of piety and religion.

The reliquary arrived in Thibodaux on a steamboat from New Orleans by way of Donaldsonville on April 28, 1868.  It was placed on an altar in St. Joseph’s church with elaborate and solemn ceremonies attended by 4000 people.  All business places were closed for this occasion.

St. Valerie became the patroness of Thibodaux.  A Confraternity of St. Valerie was organized to include all the young girls of the parish of St. Joseph who had made their Solemn Communion.  The feast of St. Valerie, April 28, was celebrated annually with solemn High Mass and a procession led by the reliquary carried on the shoulders of men of the congregation followed by the clergy:  members of the Confraternity dressed in white dresses trimmed in red, wearing wreathes of red and white flowers;  members of church organizations; the pupils and faculties of the Catholic schools; the St. Joseph brass band; Thibodaux volunteer fire companies; and members of the congregation.  The procession was held on the church grounds.

When St. Joseph’s church burned on May 25, 1916 the reliquary was one of the few items salvaged through the heroic efforts of Thibodaux citizen volunteers and volunteer firemen.  The reliquary was kept in the Mt. Carmel convent chapel until April 28,1940 when it was placed on a fire truck and transported in solemn procession to the new St. Joseph’s church which had been dedicated in 1931.