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-Catholicism. In 1803, short on teachers, Mother Saint Andre Madier requested reinforcements in the form of more sisters from France. The relative to whom she wrote, 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, and sent her letter on 19 March 1809. Against all odds, she received a response on 29 April 1809.
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.
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.
A great fire threatened the Ursuline monastery in 1812. A lay sister brought the statue to the window and Mother Saint Michel prayed “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, we are lost if you do not come to our aid”.
The wind changed direction, turned the fire away, and saved the monastery.
Our Lady interceded again at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Many faithful, including wives and daughters of American soldiers, gathered in the Ursuline chapel before the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and spent the night before the battle in prayer. They asked Our Lady for victory by Andrew Jackson’s forces over the British, which would save the city from being sacked. Jackson and 200 men from around the South won a remarkable victory over a superior British force in a battle that lasted twenty-five minutes, and saw few American casualties.It is still customary for the devout of New Orleans to pray before the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor whenever a hurricane threatens New Orleans.
National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor
2635 State Street
New Orleans, LA 70118-6399
2734 Nashville Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115-7008
- Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm. Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
- O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of our children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, over step its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen