Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We are lost.

"Our Lady of Prompt Succor
We are lost,
Unless you hasten to help us."

In Louisiana we have this special little lady. She is Mary, Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Winding through the bayous you will undoubtedly stumble upon a church under this patronage or a yard with her statue surrounded by rose bushes. Here's her story.

In 1727 a group of nuns, the Ursuline's, came to New Orleans, Louisiana to establish a convent. Once the convent was established the sisters opened an all girls school Ursuline Academy (the oldest school for girls in America today) to educate European settlers, Native Americans and the local Cajun/Creole population as well as people in slavery. Louisiana switched hands between France and Spain a number of times and during one of these switches some nuns fled to Cuba in fear of persecution. This happened at the same time that the needs of the school grew. The Reverend Mother of the convent sent word to her cousin who was also a nun in France that she needed help and many more sisters to meet the needs of the Academy. Her cousin, Mother St. Michel asked her local Bishop permission to transfer to the Louisiana territory to assist in the ministry of the sisters here, her Bishop told her that only the Pope could give such permission as his own diocese was short of religious sisters from the war.

The Problem? Pope Pius VII was being held as a prisoner of Napoleon. Mother St. Michel knew that the odds of getting a letter to the Pope was near impossible, so she prayed and asked Mary to intercede for her, and said, "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 mailed her letter on March 19, 1809. Mother St. Michel received a letter from Pope Pius on April 29, 1809 giving her his blessing on the transfer

She had a statue commissioned of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus. Bishop Fournier, at her request, blessed the statue and her new mission. She arrived at the convent on December 31, 1810 with the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and a number of postulates to work in the convent. The statue was placed in the chapel of the convent and today is venerated by the people of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, She is the official patroness of Louisiana.

Miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt succor, one being during the fire of 1812 in New Orleans. It was the worst fire in the history of New Orleans to date. Much of the city was caught ablaze by the driving winds that pushed the fire through the buildings. The fire was headed to the convent and an order was given to evacuate the convent. At that moment instead of evacuating, Sr. Anthony placed a statue of OLOPS facing the fire and Mother St. Michel began to pray aloud "Our Lady of Prompt Succor, we are lost unless you hasten to our aid!" Immediately the wind shifted and the fire spared the convent, one of the few buildings left after the fire. The nuns began to exclaim in thanksgiving, "Our Lady of Prompt Succor has saved us!"

Today Our Lady of Prompt Succor is widely asked for intercession during the Hurricane Season, We ask her to intercede that our coast be spared any major hurricanes during the season, below is the prayer that is commonly used...

Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes
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

In Christ,

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