Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

*UPDATE: It seems my optimism was a little too early. Reports coming in are very bad in regards to the destruction of New Orleans and surrounding areas. Heartbreaking.

If you want to contribute here is one site already set up.

Our Lady of Quick Help

Though not Catholic myself, I know that many of the fine citizens of New Orleans practice this faith. I can't think of a better Saint to represent what New Orleans needs right now (along with all the other coastal towns suffering this morning). I have had the privilege of visting New Orleans only once, but I am glad I still have the opportunity to return. I love this old city and its history. It is tied to my own ancestry and I felt a certain connection, a reaching out from my past as I walked the streets of the French Quarter a few years ago.

To the lovely people of New Orleans and all of Louisiana, I wish you quick recoveries and happier days.

*A little history on Our Lady of Prompt Succor:

In 1727, French Ursuline nuns founded a monastery in New Orleans, Louisiana, and organized their area schools from it. In 1763 Louisiana became a Spanish possession, and Spanish sisters came to assist. In 1800 the territory reverted back to France, and the Spanish sisters fled in the face of France anti-Catholicsm. In 1803, short on teachers, Mother Saint Andre Madier requested reinforcements in the form of more sisters from France. The relative to whom she write, Mother Saint Michel, was running a Catholic boarding school for girls. Bishop Fournier, short-handed due to the repressions of the French Revolution, declined to send any sisters. Mother Saint Michel was given permission to appeal to the pope. The pope was a prisoner of Napoleon, and it seemed unlikely he would even receive her letter of petition. Mother Saint Michel prayed:

"O most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain for me a prompt and favorable answer to this letter, I promise to have you honored at New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor"

and sent her letter on 19 March 1809. Against all odds, she received a response on 29 April 1809. The pope granted her request, and Mother Saint Michel, commissioned a statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor holding the Infant Jesus. Bishop Fournier blessed the statue and Mother's work.

Mother Saint Michel and several postulants came to New Orleans on 31 December 1810. They brought the statue with them, and placed it in the monastery chapel. Since then, Our Lady of Prompt Succor has interceded for those who have sought her help.

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