Only in Louisiana? A Tabasco bottle is featured in a painting ‘Last Supper’ in Parks Church | News

Reverend Nicholas DuPré had heard the stories before.

Pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church and St. Louis Mission Chapel in the St. Martin Parish village of Parks since 2018, DuPré said parishioners and others had occasionally referred to a religious medallion painting, an alteration of the “Last Supper.” Some people said a small picture of a Tabasco bottle near the sleeve of one of the apostles.

He never thought about it. The painted image hangs high over the back of the church on the most rearward arches near the weeping chamber, too far away for easy inspection. Besides, he said, he had other important things to do.

But when Shane Bernard, historian and curator at the 154-year-old McIlhenny Co., manufacturers of Tabasco products on Avery Island, sent the pastor a letter asking what an “urban myth” might be – that “a mischievous painter , when creating a mural in the church depicting the Last Supper, including a bottle of our Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce on the table in the picture… You never know.”

DuPré said he left the letter on his desk for a few months because, frankly, inspecting the image meant he had to get up a 10-foot ladder from his shed and climb high to get a closer look. . That seemed to be a lot of hassle.

But, he said, “Shane had written me a nice letter on Tabasco letterhead,” so he recently dug out the ladder and made the long climb to heaven for closer inspection, primed to respond with “pictures and truth.”

And there it was.

“It is not in a conspicuous place. It’s not like a shape in the clouds,” DuPré said. But it is the shape of a bottle, the green label and the red hue of the contents that are unmistakable in these parts and beyond.

The pastor said the bottle may have come from the painter’s “own creative license.” Or, he said, the then pastor of St. Joseph, the Rev. Bryce Sibley, “may have had some fun.”

The painter, Christie Hebert Hollier, said she could barely remember the specific artwork. She closed her studio about four or five years ago and now very rarely paints.

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She created original artwork, but also repainted older artworks. She said she had done a lot of work on the Church around 2005-2006, and she recalled being about eight months pregnant when she climbed the ladder to do some work at the back of the Church.

“Who was the priest?” she asked. She said it was Sibley, she laughed and said, “Oh. That sounds good.”

Sibley, who teaches seminarians at Notre Dame in New Orleans, confirmed the story on Saturday. Sibley was pastor of Our Lady of Wisdom at the University of Louisiana on the Lafayette campus for 11 years before being assigned to seminary.

He said he was ordained in 2000 after a long study in Rome, where he was inspired by great churches and religious art. Assigned to St. Joseph in Parks from 2003 to 2008, he said he decided the church needed to be redone inside and out. Hollier and her then-husband, a contractor, lived near the church and did a wonderful job.

He said he had raised funds from church members to commission numerous Hollier paintings, including some that would be combined to show how the Old Testament was fulfilled in the New Testament. “The Last Supper” was one of them.

The artist painted in his direction, including details such as the round table at the Last Supper, which he thought was more historically accurate than the straight table depicted in other works, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s work in the latter years of the 15th century . In a moment of whimsy, Sibley said, he took the Tabasco bottle with him because Avery Island was “just down the road” and people appreciated it. He said he may have talked to someone from Tabasco.

“I was the one who wanted that. There may be other details in other paintings that I made funny. Avery Island. Why not? I thought everyone knew it was in there,” he said.

Other details? Other paintings?

Where did Father DuPré put that ladder?

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