17 November 2019

35th Anniversary Trip - New Orleans, Lousiana

Our Lady of Prompt Succor
Thirty-five years ago today my wife and I married, on the day before my 23rd birthday. Do the math yourself. Last weekend we decided to make a weekend of it in New Orleans. Besides wandering around a bit in the French Quarter, we made a micro pilgrimage out if it by going to two shrines we'd never been to before. Here is an account of the past couple of days….

Friday 15 November
We drove from Natchitoches to New Orleans, checked in to the Prince Conti Hotel in the French Quarter, at 830 Conti Street, just a block from Bourbon Street. It was a nice room, overlooking the street, but were we to stay here again, we would ask for something not facing the street. It was quite loud late into the early morning hours. We walked from there a couple of blocks along Dauphine Street to Deanie’s Restaurant, where we had a really nice meal. While we waited to be seated, Anne had an Amaretto Sour and I had an Old Fashioned – excellent! After the meal, we walked back to the hotel and settled in for the evening.

Our room was directly over the balcony behind the Union Jack.

A room very much like our own.

Saturday 16 November

After a good breakfast in the café of the Prince Conti Hotel, Anne and I set out for our first pilgrimage destination for the day, the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on State Street. Our aim was to be there in time to wander around the shrine on our own for a little while, then attend Mass at 11:30. We succeeded in doing that. We actually had time to stop at a Walgreens for a couple of necessities we had neglected to pack and still got to the shrine right at 10:45, the beginning of the window of opportunity for such self-guided tours before Mass. As people slowly wandered in and settled themselves in for Mass, we looked around – feeling increasingly self-conscious as we did so, but we were not the only ones doing so either.

St. Ann and the Child Mary

The "Sweetheart" statue.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

The Blessed Mother is known as a powerful intercessor with her Divine Son under a variety of titles – Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Good Success, Our Lady of Good Help (Bon Secours), and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to name but a few. The title that is nearest and dearest to the hearts of Louisiana Catholics is, however, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, with whom is associated two powerful miracles saving the city of New Orleans.

The story of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is inextricably bound up in the story of the Ursulines, a religious order founded in 16th-century Italy by St. Angela Merici. Their mission is the education of girls and care for the poor and sick. According to tradition, Ursula was one of a group of 4th-c. Roman-British holy virgins who undertook a pilgrimage across Europe only to be trapped in the city of Cologne when the Huns laid siege. They were then martyred when the city fell. I am uncertain why, over a thousand years later, St. Angela chose St. Ursula as the patron for her order, other than the association of Ursula with a group of holy virgins. In any case, during the early 18th century, King Louis XV and Pope Pius III dispatched a dozen Ursuline sisters from the convent in Rouen, Normandy, to the French colony of Louisiana, otherwise known as “New France,” landing at recently-founded New Orleans. The sisters established a convent which still exists, and what continues as the oldest girls’ school in the United States. The Ursulines continued their mission during Spanish rule in Louisiana later in the 18th century and for the brief period of renewed French rule that preceding the 1803 Louisiana Purchase which brought United States rule. Fearing the passage from Catholic to Protestant rule, the sisters petitioned and received a charter confirming their property rights from President Thomas Jefferson.

The Mother Superior also sought sisters from France to make up numbers that had declined when Spanish nuns relocated to Cuba with the end of Spanish rule, but the bishop having jurisdiction over the French Ursulines was reluctant to release any to transfer to America given the drastic decline in the numbers of female religious over the prior decade and a half of the French Revolution. Mother St.-Michel Gensoul, cousin of the New Orleans Mother St.-Andre Madier, petitioned Pope Pius VII – then a prisoner of Napoleon – and prayed before a statue of the Blessed Mother: “O most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain for me a prompt and favorable answer to the letter, I promise to have you honored at New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.” The Pope granted her request, whereupon Mother St.-Michel commissioned what would become the well-known statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and set forth for New Orleans in 1810. At that time the Ursuline Convent was at its old location, on Chartres Street behind the Cathedral of St. Louis.

The legends surrounding Our Lady of Prompt Succor and the New Orleans miracles attributed to her are confusing and somewhat repetitious, with many accounts conflating elements of differing versions into narratives that ultimately do not agree even within any one of them. There is even some confusion resulting from the existence of not just one but two statues in the shrine. Besides the more famous, virtually life-size, magnificent golden-robed image identified as “Our Lady of Prompt Succor,” there is also a diminutive plaster statue affectionately known as “Sweetheart,” similar in broad strokes to the more famous, also holding the Infant Savior, but depicted in more traditional white with a blue mantle, standing rather than in mid-stride as the larger, but about which some of the stories revolve. This is not the place for a comprehensive and detailed attempt to unravel the tangle and weave a coherent thread, however.

Ultimately, the reputation of Our Lady of Prompt Succor rests on the above pledge of Mother St.-Michel and two miracles that happened in quick succession soon after the statue’s arrival. In 1812, one of a series of great fires over the course of several decades broke out in New Orleans, gutting the French Quarter. As the inferno approached their convent, the nuns placed a “small statue” of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in the window facing the fire, and prayed, “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us or we are lost!” The wind shifted, the fire receded, and the convent was spared. More famously, however, fresh upon the turning of the new year 1815, during the night of 07-08 January, the Ursuline sisters and the residents of New Orleans prayed through the night that they might be spared conquest and occupation by the invading British. This was at the end of the War of 1812 – in fact it was technically after the end of the war because an armistice had been signed at Ghent the previous Christmas Eve 1814, which mainly emphasizes that it was a different world back then, when even such momentous news traveled no faster than a fast horse or a fast ship. Neither the attacking British General Edward Pakenham, commanding troops numbering some 8,000, nor the defending American General Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson with less than 6,000, knew of the peace. Against these odds, Jackson nonetheless turned back a poorly executed British attack, suffering only 62 casualties compared to almost 2,500 British. Both sides would doubtless have suffered more had the Ursulines not converted classrooms into infirmaries where they treated wounded and sick American and British soldiers equally. Jackson afterward thanked Mother St.-Marie Olivier in person for the Ursulines’ prayers, and in a letter still held in their archives credited the victory to the “heavenly intercession” so gained. Whenever he subsequently visited New Orleans, the staunchly Presbyterian Freemason always paid his respects at the Catholic convent. For the nuns’ part, they have subsequently upheld the promise made during that night of prayer, that forever after there would be a special Mass of thanksgiving offered on the anniversary of the victory.

Several things regarding the first of these miracles beg highlighting. First, the “small statue” placed in the window obviously could not be Mother St.-Michel’s large statue. In fact, the “Story of Our Lady of Prompt Succor” at the Ursuline Academy web page [LINK] specifically identifies it as the “Sweetheart” statue. Second, some accounts place the miracle not in the 1812 fire about which I could find surprisingly little information – not even its exact date -- but rather in the 1794 fire of 08 December (the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) when, according to “French Quarter Fire and Flood” by Sally Reeves, at FrenchQuarter.com [LINK] the nuns prayed to Notre Dame de Bon Secours, the patron of Rouen, their home town in northern France, and the convent was spared – although no statue is mentioned in that article. Or was it the Good Friday Fire of 1788? This date and the role of a statue is implied by another section of the Ursuline Academy web site [LINK], which tells the story of the “Sweetheart” statue, calling it an “early image of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.” The story goes as follows: Sister Felicité at the Monastery of Pont St.-Esprit in France found a small plaster statue cast aside in the monastery attic. She was inspired to pray before it, “My good Mother, if you will take away promptly the obstacles that stand in the way of our departure, I will carry you to New Orleans, and I promise to have you honored  there by every means in my power.” Her petition was granted, and Sr. Felicité did carry the statue to New Orleans. The story immediately continues with the tale of a fire threatening the convent, when, according to an account by one Sr. Eugenia O’Laughlin, “Hastily the Superior, Reverend Mother St.-Michel, commanded the nuns and school children to leave the building. As she herself turned to go, she was horrified to see Sr. St.-Anthony, one of the old nuns, climbing the stairs. Following her, Rev. Mother discovered she was carrying the small statue of Our Lady. As the Superior watched, Sr. St.-Anthony hurried to the window on the second floor. She set the statue 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.” Elements of this account that do not fit, however,  are: 1) Why would Sr. Felicité have prayed for the lifting of obstacles to the nuns’ relocation to New Orleans several decades before they were called to such a move? 2) If the implication that the fire in question was the 1788 conflagration is indeed the case (it is not stated specifically), then how was Mother St.-Michel involved several decades before she left France? 3) Would the nuns have prayed to “Our Lady of Prompt Succor” at that date? 4) Is indeed the “Sweetheart” statue “an early image of Our Lady of Prompt Succor” several decades before Mother St.-Michel seemingly originated that title? In fact, 5) The tale of Sr. Felicité finding a statue in the attic and praying before it is suspiciously similar to one version of the story, which has Mother St.-Michel, having received a request from the New Orleans sisters in that same year 1785 but needing permission from Pope Pius VII to relocate to the New World, finding a tiny statue in her convent attic, and praying before it, “My good Mother, if you will promptly remove these obstacles, I shall carry this image of you to New Orleans where I promise to do all in my power to have you honored.” Or course, she was “soon after” on a ship to New Orleans. Nevertheless, “At that time,” she commissioned a statue, which arrived in New Orleans in December 1810! Hardly “soon after,” or “at that time,” besides which Pius VII would not assume his Pontificate until 1800. There are all kinds of problems with this muddled account, which is also at the Ursuline Academy web site [LINK].

But I have spent too much time on a mystery I have barely scratched the surface in attempting to solve, in which the more accounts I find the more questions I have. Suffice it to say that whatever is the case regarding the turning back of the fire, the circumstances of the miraculous victory in the Battle of New Orleans are well documented. They sealed Our Lady of Prompt Succor as the center of New Orleans Catholic religiosity which she remains to this day. The Ursulines, their convent and academy having outgrown their property in the French Quarter, eventually moved (twice in fact, first to a location in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, later, ca. 1920 …) to their present location where in January 1924 there was formally consecrated the National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor as we visited it today.

+ + +

The Mass was nice, but definitely not traditional. Nor, I gather are the sisters. As cantor for the Latin choir at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches who also attends daily Mass, several years ago I took on chanting the Mass Parts and Propers for the various feast days of the liturgical year when they fall on those weekdays. The Diocese of Alexandria being part of the Archdiocesan Province of New Orleans (basically, the State of Louisiana), 08 January is the Solemnity of Our Lady of Prompt Succor – in other words, one of the highest-ranking feast days and a Marian feast day to boot! It is therefore incumbent on us at the Basilica as a Marian church to celebrate it with appropriate solemnity. Of course, the powers that be don’t make it easy on us! The annual handbook for liturgical matters, called the Ordo, covers a number of dioceses and thus doesn’t really focus on any single one, and while it recognizes the existence of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Prompt Succor (a feast most Catholics outside Louisiana have never even heard of) the guidelines it contains are sketchy and confusing. It always seems to catch us off guard. So, immediately upon the end of Mass I went up and got the attention of a gentleman who seemed to be acting as a sacristan, briefly explained our dilemma, and asked if we could possibly see or even get a copy of the liturgy that is used at the Shrine itself on that feast day. He could not really help me, but he pointed me toward one of the nuns, whom he said was the headmistress of the Ursuline Academy. I introduced myself and explained my request a second time. She took me back into the sacristy and gave me a booklet program for the feast day last January, as well as a separate sheet detailing the Mass Propers as approved by then Archbishop Hannan in the immediate aftermath of the implementation of the Novus Ordo Missae ca. 1970. Of course, thumbing through the booklet as she gave it to me, she said, “We [the 1815 Ursulines] promised to say a Te Deum on the anniversary of the battle every year. We don’t really do that any more….” What they do, at least as printed in the 2019 program, is some kind of antiphonal paraphrase that bears about as much resemblance to the real thing as does the hymn Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, which is often put forward as an English “translation” of the Te Deum. It is a paraphrase at best. I just thanked her, smiled, and said, “Don’t worry, Sister; we’ll take up your slack in Natchitoches!”

Leaving the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Anne and I had thought about visiting a Church Supply House in search of a new garden statue of Our Lady. We have had one for many years, but it is heavily weathered and she wants a new one. However, we also knew that our other main goal for this micro pilgrimage was to visit the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, which closed at 15:30. Wanting to have plenty of time there, we decided to forego the shopping trip and make our way straight to our second shrine of the day.

We were a bit chagrined when we arrived at St. Mary's Assumption Church where is to be found the shrine only to see considerable traffic and little parking in the area, which we quickly realized was because guests and participants in what looked to be a fairly large wedding were assembling and entering the church. We lucked into a fairly close parking space, however. A young man in a tuxedo who seemed to be associated with that and who seemed to be directing people told us that as far as he knew the associated museum would be open and directed us toward it. And so it was.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Francis Xavier Seelos was a native of Bavaria, born on 11 January 1819. He entered the priestly missionary order of Redemptorists (C.S.Sp.) at age 23, asking to be sent to the United States. There he served out his novitiate in Baltimore, then was sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he served under John Neumann in various capacities as Redemptorist novice master and superior as well as missionary and priest. I researched this latter holy man during the writing of a forthcoming book about pilgrimage. An immigrant from Bohemia, John Neumann became a priest and eventually the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, where he founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. Stories of miracles swirled about him even during his lifetime. He ultimately (1977) became the first American bishop and to date the only male US citizen to be canonized, and his shrine in Philadelphia is one of the most prominent domestic pilgrimage destinations, appearing prominently enough in several extremely divergent selections of US Catholic travel recommendations that through a very unscientific weighted analysis I judged it probably somewhere about the sixth most popular.

Soon after Neumann became bishop, his protégé Fr. Seelos was sent back to Baltimore where he served as pastor of several churches while training future Redemptorists. When his mentor died in 1860, Fr. Seelos was proposed to replace him as bishop, but declined and instead sought and received permission to become an itinerant missionary to German-speaking communities across the upper Midwest, which he did for the next half-dozen years. Then, just after the end of the American Civil War, he was appointed pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in New Orleans – arriving in the city right when the yellow fever epidemic of 1867 struck the gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana, hitting especially hard in New Orleans. Father Seelos exhausted himself caring for and ministering to the sick and dying, ultimately contracting the disease himself. He did on 04 October 1867, to be beatified by John Paul II in 2000. His feast day is celebrated on 05 October.

Stories of miracles abound, documented in an article running to several pages at Seelos.org [LINK]. Blessed Fr. Seelos first really came to my own attention a few years ago, through a local news story detailing the healing of an Alexandria man after, following the advice of a priestly acquaintance of mine, Fr. Chad Partain, he prayed an unusual nine-hour novena to the holy man. Remarkably, the gentleman, who had never previously heard of Blessed Seelos, received this instruction from Fr. Partain during a dream – but he followed it anyway and was immediately healed [LINK]. (As an aside, in desperation a few months back I prayed what I called a nine-minute novena – a short prayer to Fr. Seelos asking for his intercession, followed by an Our Father, an Ave Maria, and a Glory Be, all in rapid succession nine times [it probably took more than nine minutes] – and received an almost immediate answer to my prayer.) Prayer works, the saints and blesseds of heaven are eager to intercede for us, and I have no doubt that Fr. Seelos will be canonized sooner rather than later.

+ + +

After making our way through the museum, Anne and I went into the associated gift shop for a while. We browsed around a bit, made some purchases, and got reminded why – as much as I love the city – a little bit of New Orleans goes a long way for me. There was a panhandler in the shop, hitting people up for money. Okay, I know this is something I struggle with – Our Lord’s precept that we are to see Him in the poor vs. the great number of the “poor” whom I believe are so mainly through their own fault and simply find begging a more amenable life-style than finding a job. As I’ve said before, we are indeed called to see Christ in the poor, but I don’t believe we are called to see Him in the con artist. Call me hardhearted or judgmental if you like, but that’s the way I see it. And see it I do. For instance, I heard this guy tell three radically different sob-stories while we were browsing in that show. He was obviously a known quantity to the proprietors; they called him by name and ultimately brought him a bag with some kind of food in it to get him to go away. He did not go far. A bit later, as we were leaving the complex after having gone from the gift shop into the rear of the church we saw him lounging on a bench in a little garden area between the museum and the church chatting away on a mobile phone.

After making our purchases in the gift shop, even though we would not be able to see the interior of the church itself we did go into the rear of the church, to the actual shrine of Blessed Seelos, where we also saw a magnificent wall of relics which stretched a good twenty to thirty feet. All the while, we heard the wedding Mass in progress.

We made our way back to our hotel, dropped our vehicle there in the valet parking, and set off on foot. Anne wanted to go to a specific parfumerie where they will formulate a specific fragrance tailored for your likes. Named Bourbon French Parfums, it is located at 805 Royal Street behind and to the west of the cathedral. Anne had called and confirmed there would be time to do this; it would not take nearly as long as I had anticipated, so I sat and watched and visited with the proprietress, Mary. We discovered a connection of sorts. She asked where we were from, and for some reason we went beyond just saying we were from Natchitoches – we told her how Anne is from Lafayette while I am from Monroe. She actually grew up, she said, on the south side of Monroe. When she found out that we live in Natchitoches, she told us that she and her son(s?) used to come occasionally to Natchitoches, to see the Christmas lights among other things. They would go into Kaffie-Frederick and how Mr. Frederick (our friend Sydney’s father) had one time sold her son a knife he really, really wanted at nowhere near the actual price of the knife. Of course, she already had a relationship with Mr. Frederick, who was a customer of here. This was when she had first gotten into her business there (I believe she first worked for and then took it over from the former owner – this would have been at least twenty years ago); Mr. Frederick would always purchase a specific fragrance for his wife for Christmas.

Anne got her fragrance, and as we were finishing the transaction, I offhandedly mentioned that, although I always say I’m “from Monroe,” I’m just saying that because no one outside the area would know where Swartz is (north of Monroe). It turned out she did know where Swartz is – in fact, it turned out that she was married to Leo Dixon … who lived directly across from my grandmother on Aubrey Hare Road! (We lived next further up the road from Mammaw, across a field, but essentially diagonal from the Dixons. “Nubbin!” I said – and she knew that nickname. He was about five years older than me, I think. They were long-since divorced, and he had in fact passed away a few years ago, but she remembered Mammaw and how much Nubbin loved her. I told her one of my few real memories of him, how one time when they brought my grandfather, Pappy (the Aubrey Hare for whom to road is named), home from the nursing home he was outside, ran across the street, helped transfer him from the car into the wheelchair (my grandfather was paralyzed and mute from several massive strokes long before – this would have been ca. 1971 because he died in Feb 1972; I never knew him to be anything but wheelchair-bound, with his right arm drawn up in a fist against his chest, unable to speak; there is a picture of him actually holding me as a baby – I was born at the end of 1961 – but I do not remember him being able to do that. I believe his first debilitating stroke was in the early-mid 1950s, while my father was serving in the navy in Japan). Nubbin made over him, telling him how glad he was to see him. It made an impression on me, one that I’ve always remembered.

It is a small, small world.

(Here is a link to a page that has a virtual tour [LINK].)

After that, Anne and I walked across the French Quarter to Drago’s Restaurant, located in the Hilton Hotel at 2 Poydras Street. We had another great meal – quite a bit more expensive and the one last night was not cheap!; an Old Fashion was literally twice as expensive here, $16 vs. $8. Double the price, and half as good. Actually more than half, but definitely not twice as good! While we were there a military ball was assembling as well, which was kind of cool to watch. Then we walked back to our hotel, stopping and picking up some fudge and pralines along the way, and ended up reading and watching TV until time to retire. At one point, we heard a brass band outside and looked out our window to see a wedding party processing (really, dancing) down the street deeper into the French Quarter. We figure they must have been coming from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, only a couple blocks away in the direction from which they came. It is the location of a shrine we had on the short list but did not make it to because of time, the International Shrine of St. Jude.

Sunday 17 November – Our 35th Anniversary

We got up and dressed and had a very quick, light breakfast before heading out kind of early because we were told that parking around the church we were aiming for is notoriously bad. The French Quarter – especially Bourbon Street – was totally trashed. Yes, a little New Orleans goes a long way with me.

We arrived at the old St. Patrick’s Church, to the east of the French Quarter, about 45 minutes before the 09:15 Mass. I had to park about a block and a half away. Their High Mass in the Extraordinary Form was awesome – a full choir, several altar servers, etc. One unusual feature was that the entire congregation joined in chanting the Pater Noster. That should be done everywhere. Immediately after Mass was Benediction.

We drove back to our hotel, finished packing, and checked out of our hotel. We then went down to the riverbank and found a parking spot near the old Jax Brewery (long since converted into a multilevel mall). Our goal: Café du Monde at the corner of Jackson Square, one of the most stereotypical New Orleans attractions, for coffee and beignets. They were good as always, and as always I left with a dusting of powdered sugar. 

We walked down the street and back up it, stopping in a couple of shops, then walked around the perimeter of Jackson Square, stopping in St. Louis Cathedral. Mass was in progress, so we did not go into the church proper, but the large vestibule includes a gift shop that was open as usual. I purchased a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Outside, crowds which were dense when we arrived were steadily increasing with all manner of activity, much of it most inappropriate for the forecourt of a church, including fortune-tellers purporting to engage in divination (to the extent it may be supernatural, it would be demonic in origin, not divine whatever the term may suggest – stay away!), artists selling lewd pictures, and the like. Of course, there was plenty of benign entertainment as well. Our attention was captured by a guy who played the violin in a modern style that I at least do not associate with the instrument. We noted his name – Wael Elhalaby -- and Anne eventually downloaded one of his albums. I did not take this video, but here is an example uploaded just a couple months earlier:

Of course, before we got back to the car and headed out, there was another incident reinforcing my “love-hate” attitude toward New Orleans. Don’t get me wrong. I love to visit the city. It has a unique atmosphere. The only other US city that attracts me the same way is San Antonio. There is just something special about the unique blend of cultures that has given birth to much that people associate with Louisiana. Nevertheless, every time I go there, I come away with its image further tarnished. It’s not just the recent appearance of “homeless” tent-cities in open areas especially beneath Interstate overpasses, a phenomenon New Orleans shares with other cities in which liberal municipal governments cater to such populations superficially as opposed to dealing with the real problems generating such populations. Worse, over the course of my lifetime of visiting the city (from sometime in my teens) it – and especially the French Quarter – has deteriorated further and further into touristy kitsch, far worse than the more benign “Disnification” Fr. Ryan Humphries comments regarding, e.g., Dublin (“ – and not in a good way!” he adds). Even when I first went to New Orleans there was lamentation at how far it had fallen; since then it has just gotten raunchier and coarser, and I predict it will continue to descend further into the gutter. And many of the street performers have grown increasingly arrogant and demanding, and downright rude as they have developed a sense of entitlement. Case in point – as we were walking down the street having left the Square and approaching where we had left the car, we were having to divert to the outer edge of the sidewalk to pass by where some kid was tap-dancing for money. Another guy, still a kid but older, there with him obviously took offense that we were just passing, and loudly jeered, “That’s it, keep on walking, rich white people!”

Of course, how could he know I am a college professor in Louisiana? We did keep walking, but again I came away with no desire to visit New Orleans for a while. I love to visit the city, but I get my fill very quickly and that fill carries me for a long while between trips.

But I will return. For all its raunch New Orleans is paradoxically one of the most Catholic cities in the world. A deep French heritage and a long period of Spanish rule before it came under American control, with large populations of Italian and Irish immigrants, all create a deeply Catholic cultural mix manifesting in a great many destinations for Catholic pilgrims. We only hit two.

As mentioned above, I am writing a book on Catholic pilgrimage. One of the points I make in a late chapter, after surveying major sites around the world and around the country, is that there are many local shrines to be found:

Any large city, especially in the northeast, will likely give an abundance of results. A large city in a historically Catholic area can be a bonanza – e.g., New Orleans [LINK]:

Mère Henrietta Delille Prayer Room, a shrine to the Venerable founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family

Catholic Cultural Heritage Center: The Old Ursuline Convent, “together with the attached St. Mary’s Church and St. Louis Cathedral, … forms a shrine…” [LINK].

International Shrine of Saint Jude, New Orleans’ oldest church building.

National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a nineteenth-century mystic to whom are attributed many miracles of healing both in life and after death.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the patroness of the State of Louisiana, whose most famous miracles include saving the city first during the disastrous Great Fire of 1812 and three years later during 1815 Battle of New Orleans, the latter of which brought the thanks and lifelong patronage of General – later U.S. President, and thoroughly Protestant – Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson.

Saint Frances Cabrini Shrine, celebrating the New Orleans founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and patroness of immigrants.

Saint Ann Church and National Shrine, devoted to the grandmother of God.

I wrote this in September. In some ways, it is what inspired this little trip. I had hoped to catch a couple more shrines, and indeed had a detailed schedule made up that included St. Ann’s Church and the Shrine of St. Jude at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but in the moment we wanted to play it more loosely since this was, after all, our anniversary. God willing, there will be other chances.

In any case, leaving New Orleans, we drove pretty much straight home. Well, with one stop along the way, at Billy’s Boudin Shop in Krotz Springs on Hwy 190, where we picked up various succulent items for our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. We arrived back home about sunset. I posted a quick placeholder post with the promise of more fully fleshed out narrative, research, and pictures to come …

… a promise that went unfulfilled for several months during which I was focused on the aforementioned book, which is now finished [04 March]. I do not multitask very well, and I thus apologize for the long delay. At this point I am researching to add more historical detail about the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and Blessed Seelos, but wanted to post the basic narrative before even more time had passed. I hope you find the final result – both this account of a short micro pilgrimage and the book – worth the wait.

Thanks for reading! 

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