Heart of Louisiana: Tiniest church

Bayou Goula, La. -- This small wooden building is the tiniest of churches. Only eight feet wide and eight feet long, this chapel has been a special place for the community of Bayou Goula for more than 100 years.

"I was born here," says Mitzi Roppollo, the caretaker of Bayou Goula's Madonna Chapel, "and I would come every year with my mother, my grandmother. We had a gravel road. We'd walk and say the rosary."

The key to the chapel is in a box next to the door, so anyone who stops by can step inside.

The small church was built in 1903 by Anthony Gullo, a local sugarcane farmer. It's a symbol of a promise that was kept.

When Gullo's oldest son got terribly ill, he prayed for the child to recover. And in those prayers, he promised to build a chapel for the blessed mother.

"It's for the Jesus mother, and she did so much for us," says Roppollo. "This is just a small bit of what I can give back, and I just love the little church."

This little chapel has been called the world's smallest church because, once a year in August, a Catholic mass is held here on the day of the assumption of the blessed of the Virgin Mary. Area Catholics fill the grounds of the small church on this holy day of obligation.

The annual mass has special meaning for those who come and those who care for the tiny chapel.

"This is the place where everybody meets for the blessed mother," says church volunteer Jack Franklin. "It just means a lot to us."

There is a long history of the Catholic Church in Bayou Goula. A historic marker along LA Highway 1 commemorates another mass more than 300 years ago.

"The first recorded mass, recorded in Louisiana, was said by Father Paul du Ru on March 28th, 1700 in Bayou Goula," says church volunteer Octave Dupuy.

This annual mass, and the people who worship here, show the faith of this community, and you see the importance of this tiny chapel.

If you want to visit this little Madonna chapel, it's on River Road, about four miles north of White Castle.