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Our Lady of Prompt Succor

As one of the United States’ few homegrown Marian devotions, Our Lady of Prompt Succor holds special distinction for her interwoven history with New Orleans. Stories of protecting the city from epic storms and wars cemented her as beloved protector and “quick help” for Louisianans facing dire threats.

The devotion traces to French Ursuline nuns who arrived in 1727 to establish schools and hospitals in New Orleans. Continuing their Parisian convent’s devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, they brought a small statue as spiritual protection for their dangerous journey and frontier mission. 

As the only group spared a local epidemic in 1801, the Ursuline order successfully pleaded official city patronage under their beloved Marian icon. Then in 1812 as fears brewed of a British naval attack up the Mississippi during the War of 1812, the nuns and New Orleanians prayed novenas before the icon that the city be spared. Historical accounts maintain that astonishing summer storms thereafter damaged and deterred the encroaching British fleet – cementing prompt heavenly rescue and the Virgin’s regional fame. 

A generation later as New Orleans fell under Union siege during the Civil War in 1862, Archbishop Antoine Blanc again instituted public devotion to Mary under the same title. Once more uncanny winter storms buffeted Northern troops and gunboats just as city surrender seemed imminent. With Mary’s timely intercession widely deemed miraculous thereafter, Pope Pius IX honored her as special patroness of Louisiana in 1874.  


Into the modern age, Our Lady of Prompt Succor remained closely tied to New Orleans’ identity through events like the annual Mardi Gras mass to bless the upcoming Carnival. But her enduring fame and beloved statue safeguarding the city would see its greatest test yet. Surviving floods unleashed by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, prompt succor from Heaven remained a steadfast anchor through ensuing tumult of storm aftermath and recovery.  

Today amid ongoing challenges, petitions still flow towards the revered icon in the historic Ursuline convent. Towering oaks on its grounds serve as reminders of steadfast roots even as storms rage – an echo of the fortitude and timely hope Louisiana continues finding through Our Lady of Prompt Succor.


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