Photo gallery of the architectural features of Sacred Heart Church coming soon. A Guide to the Art and Architecture of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Mary Lee Eggart is available for purchase by contacting the Parish Office.
Sacred Heart Church was designed by the New Orleans architectural firm Bendernagel and Cazale.
The principal designer, Albert Bendernagel (right) began practicing architecture in 1898. He designed most of the original buildings on the present campus of Tulane University. Specializing in ecclesiastical architecture, he designed numerous churches throughout south Louisiana until his death in 1951.
Sacred Heart is a traditional cruciform (cross-shaped) basilica, beautifully blending the Roman and Byzantine styles. The 119 foot campanile dominates the exterior with its strong upward gesture toward heaven. Its unusual cupola is constructed in the shape of a bell. The multi-colored tile design repeats the letter “V”, calling to mind the famous “V for Victory” slogan of World War II. The design proclaims the theme of the building: Christ’s Victory over Sin and Death.
The façade, decorated with carved limestone trimmings, features a rose window and a marble statue of the Sacred Heart over the main entrance. The center doors are oak, with carved mahogany panels containing crosses of victory. Side portals of the façade are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, corresponding to the side altars within.
Inside, the narthex is separated from the nave by a screen of carved oak and stained glass crosses. On the east side is the old baptistry, to the west, stairs lead to the campanile. In the nave, 16 solid Indiana limestone columns support round Roman arches. Carved limestone decorations are picked out in gold leaf and crimson. The main altar, side altars, pulpit, and communion rail that grace the sanctuary are carved of marble from many sources, including Alabama and Tennessee. The floors are terrazzo and the woodwork is white oak. All architectural decorations were designed specifically for Sacred Heart by Bendernagel and Cazale.
At the time of the church’s dedication in 1942, cost of construction was estimated at $156,475.