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"One Heart, One Soul"

The Life and Legacy of Henriette Delille

 

Sisters of the Holy Family order

The community of Creole nuns provided care for those on the bottom rung of antebellum society, administering to the elderly, nursing the sick and teaching people of color who at the time had limited education opportunities.

Delille a saint

Now, 175 years after she founded the order, Delille stands at the doorstep of sainthood. If canonized, she will become the first New Orleanian, and the first U.S.-born black person, to be recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Path to piety

In 1850, the nuns moved to a house on Bayou Road, where they formed a school for free women of color and continued their outreach. Their work quickly became a beacon for the downtrodden of anti-bellum New Orleans.

 

Mother Henriette Delille

Unknown to many Catholics, the object of their prayers was a French-speaking woman of African descent. She was born in 1812 and grew up in the 500 block of Burgundy Street, and she lived a part of her life as a mistress in a social system known as placage, whereby wealthy white European men entered relationships with free women of color to circumvent laws against interracial marriage.