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New Orleans, Louisiana: Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor

About Our Lady of Prompt Succor & the City of New Orleans:

The story of this shrine is an old one by U.S. standards, dating back to 1727, when Ursuline nuns established a school for girls here in the city of New Orleans.

There are two major parts to the story of how Our Lady of Prompt Succor came to be honored here:

The first  involves the arrival Ursuline Sisters, most of whom left New Orleans for Cuba in 1803 during a time of crisis. This left only seven nuns in what was now a flourishing school, not enough to keep it in operation. Mother Superior, St. Andre Marier, appealed to her cousin in France (who had fled to Montpelier during the persecutions of the French revolution and had opened a girl’s school there), to come to New Orleans and help her.

However, the bishop in Montpelier refused permission for her to leave, since he was concerned that it would harm the school in Montpelier. He advised her that she would have to get permission directly from the Pope, a task that he assumed was impossible since at that tumultuous time the Pope was basically a prisoner of Napoleon. She wrote to the Pope in the spring of 1809 with little hope that it would reach him. She was praying before a statue of the Blessed Mother one day and promised that she would honor her as “Our Lady of Prompt Succor” in New Orleans. As it turned out, the letter did reach the Pope and about one month later she received an answer that she was free to go to New Orleans arriving there with the statue in December, 1810. And it has been here ever since.

The second incident occurred during the War of 1812 between England and the United States in what became known as the Battle of New Orleans. On January 7, 1815 the vastly inferior U.S. forces under the command of Andrew Jackson launched a pre-emptive attack on the British forces that were planning to assault the city the next day. Many of the city’s residents joined the Ursuline Sisters for an all-night prayer vigil beseeching Our Lady to help with a victory, in return for which they would have a Mass sung every year in appreciation. As dawn broke, Mass was being said and communion distributed, when a messenger rushed in with the word that the British had been defeated and the city had been saved.

Our Lady of Prompt Succour is Patroness of New Orleans as well as the State of Louisiana. On January 8 of each year (Feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor) Mass is celebrated by the Archbishop of New Orleans to commemorate the victory.


About the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor:


Shrine photo courtesy
Courtesy Google Maps by Glinda Mantle

In addition to the magnificent altar, the shrine has beautiful stained glass windows by Emil Frei Sr.

The sweetheart Statue:

You will find a small statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary named “Sweetheart”.

Sister Eugenia O’Laughlin’s account of when the devastating fire broke out shows the promptitude of Our Lady. Hastily, the superior commanded the nuns and school children to leave the building. As she herself turned to go, she was horrified to see Sister St. Anthony, one of the older nuns, climbing the stairs. Following her, Reverend Mother discovered she was carrying the small statue of Our Lady. As the Superior watched, Sister hurried to the window on the second floor. She set the stature on the sill facing the fire, then knelt and prayed with great confidence: “Oh, Lady of Prompt Succor, save us or we are lost.” At that very instant, the wind veered and the flames were blown back over their path of destruction and soon died out.


The Sweetheart name comes from Mother St. Benoit’s response to Ursuline students, and others, when they told her of Our Lady’s intercession on their behalf, “Oh, she’s a Sweetheart.”

The Shrine is open weekdays and weekends for certain hours.  Contact them for more details.

There are strict requirements if you want to be married at the Shrine. It is limited to any elementary or high school graduate from Ursuline Academy, New Orleans, from Ursuline schools sponsored by Roman Union Ursulines, or relatives of Ursuline Sisters (i.e., nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, etc. if the related Sister agrees)


Traveling to the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor:

The Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is located near the center of the city, on the property of the Ursuline Academy. There is a separate entrance to the shrine as shown below.

Address: 2701 State St, New Orleans, LA 70118

GPS coordinates: 29° 56′ 28.3776” N, 90° 6′ 48.9960” W

Tel:   +1 (504) 866-0200 (Sacristy 8:00 a.m. to noon)

e-mail: shrineolps@gmail.com

Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans.

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