Venerable Henriette Delille

1812-1862

“I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I want to live and die for God.”

Prayer for the Beatification of Henriette Delille

O good and gracious God, You called Henriette Delille to give herself in service and in love to the slaves and the sick, to the orphan and the aged, to the forgotten and the despised.

Grant that inspired by her life, we might be renewed in heart and in mind. If it be Your will may she one day be raised to the honor of sainthood. By her prayers, may we live in harmony and peace, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

About Henriette Delille

Henriette Delille was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1812. She was born a free woman of color. She had one sister and two brothers, one who died as an infant. Her great grandmother was a slave from West Africa. Henriette grew up surrounded by her family and friends. She is the first United States native-born African American whose cause for canonization has been opened by the Catholic Church.

She was a very devout woman and her love of Jesus and the Gospel led to her love and care for many people. Together, with Juliette Gaudin and Josephine Charles, they dedicated their time to teaching, caring for the elderly and giving to the poor. In 1836, she wrote the rules and regulations for the women she worked alongside. They would become the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family. The order was founded in 1842 and Henriette is the foundress. Bishop Antoine Blanc, agreed to the request of Abbe Etienne Rousselon, Vicar-General and pastor of St. Augustine Church to direct the Sisters. Together, they served the enslaved and free, orphans, the sick, the poor, the elderly and they educated many. They served both children and adults. The Sisters of the Holy Family provided care for those that were sick during the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1897.

Throughout her life, she encountered many challenges, which included: the resistance of others to the idea of forming a Black religious congregation, lack of funding to fully be able to help people in need and poor health. However, she persevered with great faith in Jesus.

She died on November 17, 1862 and her funeral was at St. Augustine Church in New Orleans. Her canonization was initiated by Archbishop Philip M. Hannan in April 1988 at the request of Mother Rose of Lima Hazeur, Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Family. St. Pope John Paul II granted this request in 1988 and she was declared “Servant of God.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI decreed her as Venerable Henriette Delille on March 27, 2010. The validation of an alleged miracle is being processed and once the decree of the alleged miracle’s authenticity is issued, she will be proclaimed Blesse­­d. Let us continue to pray and spread devotion to Mother Henriette Delille.