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This is a contributing entry for Le Petit Musée and Shrine of St. John Berchmans and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

The Sisters navigated cholera and yellow fever outbreaks, natural disasters, fires, and the economic hardships of Reconstruction. All the while, life at the Academy of the Sacred Heart continued. Boarders and day students came and went, young women joined the order, and additional foundations were established around the country. In 1875, the Religious began a school for African American girls on the grounds. They opened with 16 pupils. Eventually, they were able to build a new school in town which was named the Free School for Black Girls and Boys (and would later become St. Peter Claver's School). In addition to this, in 1890 the Sisters began the Sacred Heart Parochial School, now St. Ignatius.


  • Grand Coteau is a rural town and travel to larger cities was long and difficult.  Because of this and the cloister of the Sisters, many tasks were performed on site.  Novices printed and bound books and the Sisters made and cut their own hosts for Mass.
  • A number of the bricks used to build the main building were made on site using clay dug from a pit on the grounds.
  • School books, prayer books, ribbons, and prize medals were awarded to students at regular assemblies.
  • The Religious would eat together in the refectory. There was a long table where the superior and more senior Sisters ate and a number of other long bench tables where the other members of the community sat for meals.
  • During community recreation time, the Sisters would have congregated in a circle mending or doing needlework while the Superior read letters or shared news.
  • As most students were boarders, they came together in the evenings to study. They would have been presided over by one of the Religious seated on an elevated platform.
  • When the Religious of the Sacred Heart operated the parish school as well as the African American school in Grand Coteau, they traveled to and from the convent with their lunch in these containers.