Photos by Frank J. Methe | CLARION HERALD
Cathedral tour guide Brandon Briscoe studied diligently before giving his regal report card
Local attorney Brandon Briscoe, with his arms outstretched, got to display his love of New Orleans history for the tour group of his life on June 15 as he escorted King Felipe VI of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia, around St. Louis Cathedral with Archbishop Gregory Aymond, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and cathedral rector Father Philip Landry. Briscoe is pastoral council president of the cathedral and also serves as a regular tour guide.
In advance of the regal tour, Briscoe boned up for hours on possible questions the king and queen might ask in reference to the cathedral’s Spanish history. “The king had done his research and was knowledgable about the basic history of the cathedral,” Briscoe said. “He knew that the church that opened in 1794 after the 1788 fire was more or less a Spanish church, whose construction was funded by a donation from (Don Andres) Almonester.
” The king asked Briscoe how much of the current cathedral dated to the 1794 church, and he had to tell him it was only the “lower facade and the foundation.” Although New Orleans’ cathedral is not as old as European cathedrals, Briscoe told King Felipe that New Orleans, unique among American cities, follows the European model of the church being situated on the city’s main square. The king, by the way, stands 6-foot-5 1/2 and was on the Spanish sailing team in the 1992 Olympics.