Catholic Dictionary




A Marian shrine in New Orleans, Louisiana. The story of this shrine began with an Ursuline nun, Mother St. Michel, exiled by the French Revolution. Wishing to join her American community, she was prevented by the Monsignor of Montpellier, France, who forbade her to leave a recently opened school. Mother St. Michel then prayed before a statue of Our Lady and Infant for prompt help; almost immediately she received a reply from Pope Pius VII, granting her request. The grateful nun arrived in New Orleans on January i, 1810, with her statue and a few interested companions, and lost no time in spreading devotion to Our Lady under the title of "Prompt Help." When the Battle of New Orleans was in progress, Mother St. Michel asked people to join her in praying for an American victory. On the field of Chalmette, against great odds, the Americans won. Mary was then given her new title in a service of thanksgiving, her feast being formally approved by Pope Pius IX. Devotion spread rapidly. The Child and his Mother were crowned in 1894, and she was made patroness of Louisiana under her new title. Today the statue is in a new Gothic chapel under a stone canopy where pilgrims attest to many physical and spiritual miracles.