Our Lady of Prompt Succor

During the French Revolution 1789-1790, many priests, nuns, and religious brothers were persecuted.  They often had to go into hiding in order to administer the Sacraments and keep their vocation. This is what happened with the Ursuline nuns of the Convent of Pont-Saint-Esprit. One of the nuns, Agathe Gensoul, couldn’t use her religious name any longer.  Mother St. Michel, still lived her vocation, starting a school with another Ursuline, Sophie Ricard. Agathe had a cousin who was an Ursuline also, but who lived in America, in New Orleans, which had been under Spanish rule but was now under French rule. The Spanish Ursulines, in New Orleans, feared persecution by the French, so they went back to Spain.  This left the convent in need of more nuns.

So Agathe or Mother St. Michel applied to her bishop for the transfer to New Orleans.  The bishop refused her request because of troubles in France. He told her the Pope would have to approve her move. The pope couldn’t approve her move because he was under house arrest.  The situation appeared impossible. Agathe, was not easily discouraged. She wrote a letter to Pope Pius VII, but after three months she didn’t have the ability to send it. 

One day, while praying before a statue of Mary, she was inspired with this prayer:  “O Most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain a prompt and favorable answer to my letter, I promise to have you honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”

She not only found a way to send the letter a few days later, but the Pope replied within a month! He granted permission and gave his blessing for her new undertaking.  This surprised the bishop who asked to bless the statue that Mother St. Michel had carved to take with her to New Orleans.  The statue was enshrined in the Ursuline convent in New Orleans on December 30, 1810. 

Two years later, in 1812, there was a terrible fire at the Vieux Carre. The wind was driving the fire toward the Ursuline convent.  It was facing immediate danger. The nuns were told to evacuate.  Sister St. Anthony, placed a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on a window seat and St Michel began to pray aloud.  Immediately the wind that threatened to set their convent ablaze immediately switched direction and a couple of buildings, including theirs, were spared from the inferno. This was the first major historical miracle.

Three years later, America’s 6000 troops, under General Andrew Jackson were to face 15000 British soldiers. On the eve of the battle of New Orleans, the residents joined the sisters of the Ursuline convent to pray overnight with Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Superior had made a vow to have a thanksgiving mass sung annually if the American forces win.  During a mass, at the time of communion, a courier ran into the chapel to inform all present that the British had been defeated. Ever since then, on January 8, an annual thanksgiving mass has been sung.

Mary’s help has been sought from the shrine ever since, both in times of war, during the Battle of New Orleans, and during the threat of the frequent hurricanes. 

Mary, Holy Mother of God

Mary is called Mother and Mother of God for a few reasons.  The first Eve was the first mother to humanity.  However, since she sinned, in the garden, Mary with her Yes, to God became the new Eve.  

In Luke 1, Mary was greeted by an angel, weird enough by itself. Then the message Gabriel, delivered? That’s a lot for a 14-year-old to take in and understand, but she did. That yes, Mary’s yes, means she is Theotokos, the Greek word for God-bearer, or Mother of God, in the way she is biologically Jesus’s mother, but is very different from being a mother to God the Father, who was before the beginning of time.  Jesus in being fully man was born of Mary, which also means biologically, Mary shared blood with baby Jesus in the womb.  In any pregnancy, blood, oxygen, and nutrients are passed to the baby from the pregnant woman through the umbilical cord   The person who gives birth to us is our mother.  Jesus calls us adopted sons and daughters of God. These are just some of the ways we can refer to Mary as our spiritual mother. 

Sometimes we have too many words, and other times we don’t have enough. We talk of love for any number of things. We love pizza and chocolate. We love our parents, siblings, and children. We love God. Those don’t all mean the same kind of love.

The word God can be any individual having a divine nature. Sometimes God refers to the Father, Son, and Spirit together. Sometimes it refers only to one of them.

Mary, Mother of God, God this time means only Jesus, the person of the Son. Mary is not the Mother of the Trinity. She is not the Mother of the Father nor the Holy Spirit. When we say God died on the cross, we mean Jesus, the Son’s humanity died, not His divinity.

Jesus does not begin at the Incarnation. He is co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit. His immaculate Conception of Mary doesn’t create him or cause him to begin to exist. When he is conceived of Mary, He begins to be human. She doesn’t in any way contribute to his divinity. She does contribute to his humanity.

Mary is our mother in a spiritual sense. Paul says repeatedly salvation means being one with Christ. In Christ, we are a new creation. This makes us the adopted sons and daughters of the Father in his natural Son. This only happens because of Jesus’ humanity. With His humanity, we become the adopted sons/daughters of the Father in the Son of God, because He made man, we also become adopted sons/daughters of Mary, his mother. We are members of Christ’s body in a spiritual sense. Mary is who Jesus took his human body. We are in Christ, and Mary is the mother of Christ.

This is a new fresh start, find a good yes.