The CMRI Sisters will be making a novena in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor for the nine days preceding her feast on January 15, on which day they will honor her in a special way in their prayers and at Holy Mass. If you have any prayer intentions you would like them to commend during the novena, you are welcome to send them in to the Sisters using the form at the right. (N.B.: A donation is customary but is not obligatory).
In 1727, French Ursuline nuns founded a monastery in New Orleans, Louisiana, and organized their area schools from it. In 1803, short on teacher, Mother Saint Andre Madier requested reinforcements in the form of more Sisters from France. The Sister 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, who was at that time a prisoner of Napoleon; 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.” She sent her letter on March 19, 1809, and against all odds, received a favorable response on April 29, 1809.
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 went to New Orleans on December 31, 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 on many an occasion. In 1812, a great fire raged in the city, threatening the Ursuline monastery. 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 foces over the British, which would save the city from being sacked. Jackson and 200 men won a remarkable victory over a superior British force in a battle that lasted 25 minutes, and saw few American casualties. General Jackson himself returned to the Ursuline convent to express his gratitude for the Sisters’s prayers. Devotion spread to OUr Lady under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and her aid continues to be sought in calamities of all kinds up to the present day.