Sunday, June 05, 2011

Henriette de Lille - New Orleans

Blessed Henriette de Lille
I spent the last week in a city that had 200,000 more citizens than New Orleans prior to August 2005.  It now has twice as many.  I walked along blocks lined by ten-story buildings for miles.  There was traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.  I took trains that were faster than bicycles.  While I know how to navigate that terrain, and it felt very comfortable to do so, I missed New Orleans.  After only a year, New Orleans, a place like no other, seems natural, despite my life experience earned elsewhere.  Once you get New Orleans, it gets you.  It is a city like nowhere else, playing by its own generous, gregarious rules.

Today's illustrations are taken from Saint Louis Cathedral, the archdiocese seat of New Orleans.  The subject is Blessed Henriette de Lille, the first African American proposed to be recognized by the Vatican for her sainthood.
While I did visit the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception while on holiday, I did not see any representations of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the partroness of New Orleans and Louisiana, there.  Nor did I see any evidence that Blessed Henriette de Lille had made a mark on Christendom.
I was reminded of Henriette de Lille because I rode my motorcycle through New Orleans East today, to get reacquainted with my home city after a week away, and I passed the convent where the order she founded makes its headquarters.

New Orleans is a very Roman Catholic city.  Boston is too, but it is more Irish-Catholic than indigenous Catholic.  You can't swing a broom in New Orleans without coming across evidence of a local saint.  It is rather nice.

I did see plenty of statues of this gentlemen this past week:

Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, and our 7th president.  He was a good president for his time, but he was no humanitarian.  A bitter man and a notorious Indian-hater, a man who could hold a grudge and a man who was anger personified.  He honored Our Lady of Prompt Succor for her aid in the Battle of New Orleans, and he is honored in the Crescent City.  He doesn't really have a place here though beyond his equestrian statue in Jackson Square.  New Orleans is about acceptance and getting along.  Jackson was a soldier if there ever was one.  That is who you want fighting to defend you, but it isn't who you want for a neighbor.

Henriette de Lille, pray for us that we may be a holy family.

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