Saint-Joseph Church in Iracoubo: 19th-century Naive art

Saint-Joseph Church in Iracoubo: 19th-century Naive art

While thousands make a pilgrimage to this protected historical monument to see its stunning frescoes, very few learn the history of this unusual building from the late 19th century.

Prosper Raffray, a Catholic priest, began building this simple church soon after arriving in this remote village in 1886. The church funds set aside for the task soon ran out, and the villagers provided the necessary materials, labour, and money to complete the work. The building is now under the National Monuments supervision.

As the building was completed in 1893, Father Raffray, who personally donated five thousand francs to its construction, wanted to make this church a unique and personalised place with high-quality decoration, so he sought out the services of a convict named Huguet at the Iracoubo camp. For six years, Huguet dedicated himself to the task and covered the 600-sqm interior with frescoes each a masterpiece of Naive art, bringing out the best yet-popular themes.

Saint-Joseph church in Iracoubo
97350 Iracoubo