Père Antoine

Antonio de Sedella (1748 – 19 January 1829) was a Spanish Capuchin friar who served as the leading religious authority of the Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Commonly called Père Antoine, he has become a noted figure in the culture of the city. A street and a restaurant in the city's historic French Quarter are named for him.

He was born Francisco Ildefonso Mareno in the town of Sedella located in the Province of Málaga and, as a teenager, entered the Capuchin Order by which he was given the religious name of "Antonio". Presumably a short time after his ordination as a priest, he arrived in New Orleans in 1774 as an official of the Spanish Inquisition after the transfer of the colony of Louisiana to Spain by France a decade earlier. Named pastor of the Church of St. Louis in the city, after gaining a reputation for rigidity in his early dealings with the people of New Orleans, he later became known to them for his dedication to the prisoners of the city, as well as to its large slave population. He baptized the famous Marie Laveau (1801-1881), who later gained a large following as a voodoo priestess, and presided over her wedding in 1819.

Friar Antonio continued as Rector of the cathedral until his death on 19 January 1829. He was buried in the church three days later.

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