Slaves" Henriette Delille Passes Away at the Age 50
November 16, 1862
New Orleans lady, born in 1813 to a wealthy Frenchman and a quadroon free woman of color, who rejected the social norms of
her times is now the first U.S. native-born African American religious leader whose cause for canonization was officially
opened by the Catholic Church.
Henriette Delille's birth was the results of a placage, an extralegal "common law" system which became institutionalized
in our city during the Colonial Era. The arrangements included contracts or negotiations between white men and free
women of color which stipulated the financial and/or housing arrangements for woman, the settlement of property, and, many
times, paternal recognition of any children the union produced. The woman's mother usually negotiated the terms of the agreements,
including the financial payment to the parent. To our modern sensibilities, such arrangements seem arcahaic but
they were acceptable in their day and provided mixed-race women with social prestige and financial security.
had been groomed for such an arrangement. Her mother taught her French literature, music, dancing, and nursing. Her mother
kept an eye on Henriette when she attended many quadroon balls, which were the young women's introductions into the social
world which would lead to their arranged "marriages". An independent woman and a feminist (before the word
had been coined), Delille became a social worker, educator, and a nun. Ironically, the most popular location for hosting
quadroon balls would later become the convent and school of the order of religious sisters founded by Henriette Delille.
the 1820s, Delille and Juliette Gaudin, a young Cuban woman, began aiding slaves, orphan girls, the uneducated, the
sick and the elderly people of color in New Orleans. In 1835, at the age of 22, she sold all of her property
with the intention of founding a community of women to teach for free girls of color. Numerous recordings in
archival records at the Saint Louis Cathedral show that, at the age of 23, Henriette had begun her apostolic ministry as
baptismal sponsor and witness for slaves.
On November 21, 1836, a small unrecognized congregation or order
of nuns, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was organized. The original members consisted of Henriette,
Juliette Gaudin, six other young Créole women, and a young French woman. After several failed attempts, Delille and
Juliette Gaudin received permission from the diocese to begin a new religious order. Their board was composed of a director,
president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and vice-treasurer. The sisters and laypersons of this society were called
upon to teach religious principles and the most important points of Christian morality. In 1837, Father Etienne Rousselon
secured formal recognition of the new congregation from the Holy See. Sanctioned by the church, their main purpose was
to care for slaves, the sick, and the poor.
Six years later, at the urging
of Jeanne Marie Aliquot (an early supporter of St. Augustine Church) and the counseling of Pere Etienne Rousselon (vica-general
of the diocese), Delille and Gaudin knelt publicly at the altar of St. Augustine Church on November 21, 1842 and pledged
to live in community to work for orphan girls, the uneducated, the poor, the sick and the elderly among the free
people of color, thus founding the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family -- the second-oldest African-American
congregation of religious women.
In 1843, catechism classes were conducted for adults and
children on St. Augustine's property at Bayou Road (now Governor Nicholls). Delille and Gaudin were later joined by
Josephine Charles; the first three novices, Delille, Gaudin and Charles, are considered the founders of the congregation.
Although the primary work of the sisters was in the area of education, during her tenure as head of the order, Delille
made it possible for the order to build a home for the sick, aged, and poor Black residents of the city.
By 1847 the apostolate of the three sisters was supported by an association of men and women incorporated
as the Association de la Sainte Famille. Their mission was for the relief of infirm and indigent persons. They eventually
acquired a building that was known as Hospice de la Societe de la Sainte Famille. Through legal incorporation and fund-raising,
they erected the building on two lots situated on St. Bernard between Plauche and Villere streets. The hospice was blessed
on June 10, 1849.
When Henriette’s mother died in 1848,
she inherited $1,200 which she used, along with borrowed money, to arrange for the purchase of property on Bayou Road and
declared this transaction to be solely for the purpose of establishing an institution for the religious education according
to Catholic doctrine for persons of color. This became the orders first "House" (convent and school) of The
Sisters of the Holy Family. But it wasn't until October 15, 1852, when Henriette, Juliette, and Josephine pronounced
first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God in St. Augustine Church before Père Rousselon, that they first
wore the black habit of a religious order.
Henriette Delille passed away on November 16, 1862 at the age of 50. It is thought that her death was a result of tuberculosis.
Her funeral was held at St. Augustine church. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
The order she founded continued her legacy by opening a convent school on Chartres street on December 3, 1867,
five years after her death. In 1880 they moved the mother house at 717 Orleans Avenue, between Bourbon and Royal streets --
the site of the Orleans Theatre, the Quadroon balls, the First District Court, and finally the Bourbon Orleans Hotel (Photo of the school.convent)
In 1883, the order opened a convent in Opelousas. In 1875
the opened a home for aged and infirm people of color on St. Bernard Avenue between Villere and Marais streets. An orphanage
was opened on June 22, 1879 on Conti Street. In 1892, they opened school for boys and St. John Berchman's Orphan Asylum
At the time of her death, her order included
twelve nuns. 1909, it had grown to 150 members, and operated parochial schools in New Orleans that served 1,300 students.
By 1950, membership in the order peaked at 400. Her Sisters have served the poor by operating free schools for children,
nursing homes, and retirement homes in Louisiana, Texas, California, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Belize,
Panama, and Nigeria.
In April 1988, Mother Rose de
Lima Hazeur, Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Family. requested Archbishop Philip M. Hannan to initiate the canonization
of Henriette Delille. In 1989 the order formally opened its cause with the Vatican. On November 10, 2006, the
decree of judicial validity was issued in the investigation into the life, virtues and reputation of sanctity of Mother
Henriette Delille. She was declared venerable in 2010.
room in the rear of St. Louis Cathedral (where slaves were thought to have been baptized) was commissioned by its rector Reverend
Monsignor Crosby W. Kern in her honor.
In 2011, the
City of New Orleans renamed St. Claude Street in Treme in her honor. Henriette Delille Street now runs at what was the
1000 through 1800 blocks of St. Claude, from St. Philip Street, at the edge of Louis Armstrong Park, to Pauger Street, where
St. Claude Street and McShane Place come together to form St. Claude Avenue.
above was taken by Sister Doris Goudeaux in 2008 of the three founding members' tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
In summing up Henreitte Delille's life and mission, Sylvia Thibodeaux, a modern Sister of the Holy Family, told the
Los Angeles Times, "She was the servant of slaves. You can't get more committed than that.
The Superdome converted its artificial grass surface to FieldTurf midway through the 2003 football season
on November 16.
On November 16, 2003, a 23-20 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons gave the Saints their
100th victory in the Dome.
On November 16, 1997, in the then-shortest overtime game in NFL history, the Saints beat the
Seattle Seahawks, 20-17 on a Doug Brien 38-yard fieldgoal 17 seconds into extra time.
Perez Associates submitted plans on November 16, 1984 to demolish and renovate the Louisiana
World Exposition International Pavilion at 805 Convention Center Blvd.for use by the Rouse Corporation.
On November 16 1969, Tom Dempsey
set a Saints record with 4 fieldgoal against the New YorkGiants, hitting the fourth with 11 seconds left in the game for a
In response to the order to desegregate New Orleans schools, some 2,000 student throughout the city skipped
school to demonstrate against school integration on November 16, 1960. Only eight Benjamin Franklin school
for gifted students were absent from class. A Time Magazine article later stated that School Superintendent
James F. Redmond's "proudest memory of the first day of integration, when truancy was rife, is that 'my Franklin kids
stuck with it.'"
On November 16, 1959 National Airlines Flight 967, a Douglas DC-7 flying from Tampa
to New Orleans with 42 people on board crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Although an onboard bomb was suspected, the physical
evidence was lost in the Gulf. Capt. Frank E. Todd of Miami, the pilot, radioed his last message at 12:44 a.m. He reported
a "smooth flight" and unlimited visibility, but said he could see a solid overcast of fog "up ahead."
He was cleared by the New Orleans Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC - ZNO) located in the terminal building at New
Orleans Lakefront Airport to descend to and maintain 5,000 feet and to report leaving 8,000 feet This air traffic control
instruction/clearance was issued through National Airlines' radio station/office at Pensacola, FL; a normal procedure before
making the approach to the Moisant International Airport (KMSY). At that time the control tower at Moisant reported a ceiling
of 1,200 feet with three-fourths of a mile visibility, light fog and rain. It continued on a track of 296 degrees magnetic
for a few minutes, then turned right to a heading of approximately 010 degrees and disappeared from the scope at 12:51 AM.
At 1:16 AM, company radio attempted to contact Flight 967 to no avail; attempts by FAA enroute facilities, New
Orleans Approach Control, and air traffic control were unable to raise the flight. Search and rescue aircraft
spotted scattered debris and a number of bodies in the vicinity of the last radar return (off the coast of Pilottown); the
remains of 10 individuals were eventually located. The main section of the wreckage has never been found despite the efforts
of Navy and Coast Guard divers. The Civil Aeronautics Board (predecessor of
the NTSB) did not find a probable cause for the accident due to the lack of evidence.
Photo of the Scottish Rite Temple on Carondelet Street on November 16, 1954.
Israel Meyer Augustine, Jr. the first African American district judge in Louisiana, was born
in New Orleans on November 16, 1924. A graduate of McDonogh 35 High School, he received a B. A. from
Southern University in Baton Rouge and earned a law degree from Lincoln University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1951, he was
admitted to the Louisiana Bar and in 1962, he was allowed to practice before the Supreme Court. In 1970, Augustine became
the first Black elected as judge in Criminal District Court. In 1971, he presided over the Black Panther Trial, a case that
brought him national attention. A champion of the people, Augustine established several community programs such as "Roots"
Home Coming Program, the First Offender and Angola Awareness. Judge Augustine died of Lou Gehrig's disease on August
29, 1994 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Forty soldiers were sent to ambush the Baratarians and they captured Jean Lafitte, his brother Pierre, and 25 unarmed smugglers
on November 16, 1812 and confiscated several thousand dollars of contraband. Officials released
the smugglers after they posted bond, and they disappeared, refusing to return for a trial.