Our Lady Of Prompt Succor
Country : France
Year : 1809
At the outbreak of the French Revolution, an Ursuline nun, Madame St. Michel Gensoul (Frances Agatha Gensoul), was obliged to leave her convent in France, return to the world and wait the time when convents would be reopened. Meanwhile she received a letter from a relative in the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans (Mother St. Andre Madier), saying that sixteen other Ursulines, to escape the government of France, had come to Havana, Cuba, to open a community there. Mother St. Michel decided to devote herself to spiritual labors in Louisiana, but her Bishop refused consent, since he hoped the convents of France would soon resume activity, and he told the religious that only the Pope could give her permission, and since he (the Pope) was a prisoner of Napoleon the entire project was out of the question. Following an impulse, Mother St. Michel wrote to the Pope and then turning for aid to Our Blessed Mother, she 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.”
The letter was sent from Montpellier to Rome on March 19, 1809, and despite all things to the contrary, Pope Pius replied on April 29, 1809. The request had been obtained thru the prompt aid of Our Lady. In thanksgiving, Mother St. Michel ordered sculptured a beautiful statue of Our Lady, holding the Infant Jesus in her arms; Jesus holds in His Hands a globe, representing the world. Bishop Fournier, recognizing in all this the acts of Divine Providence, asked permission to bless the statue.
Mother St. Michel and several postulants with the precious statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, arrived in New Orleans December 31, 1810. The statue was set up in the chapel of the Sisters on Ursuline St. and Mother St. Michel who taught there, lost no time in spreading devotion to Our Lady, which soon became popular. Two signal favors showed Our Lady’s pleasure at the devotion: in 1812 a great fire broke out near the convent, which was doomed for destruction. An old lay sister placed a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on a window ledge facing the approaching flames; at the same time Mother St. Michel fell on her knees and prayed: “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, we are lost if you do not come to our aid.” The wind veered, the fire died down and the convent was saved.
Another great favor was bestowed during the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1814. Never before was the city in hopelessly greater danger. Very Rev. Wm. Doubourg, urged the people to pray to Our Lady. Early Sunday morning while the raging battle could be heard in the city, the convent chapel of Our Lady of Prompt Succor was crowded with petitioners, begging Mary for prompt aid. The statue was placed upon the altar and Mother Superior in the name of the community vowed if the American forces were victorious and God spared the city, the Ursulines would see that each year a Mass of Thanksgiving be offered in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The battle lasted 25 minutes; the routed British lost 2,600 of their 20,000 men, while Jackson lost 13 of his 2,000. Jackson declared only the aid of the Almighty could have brought about such results. He went himself to the convent afterwards to thank the Ursulines for their prayers and for their nursing of the American wounded. Many favors continue to be obtained through Mary’s intercession, as records testify.
Pope Leo XIII, June 21, 1894, issued a decree of privilege to crown the famous statue, which was done Nov. 14, 1894. The two crowns: one for the infant, the other for Mary were made of “exquisite artistry” – gold, silver, precious stone, donated by hundreds of faithful clients of Our Lady. This was the first of such a ceremony conducted in the United States.