The story behind the celebration
+ Devotion to Mary under her title “Our Lady of Prompot Succor”—“Quick Help”—dates back to 1727 and the establishment of a community of Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans, Louisiana.
+ Although this community suffered extreme difficulties in their early years, the sisters persevered and, in 1809, Pope Pius VII gave permission for more sisters to travel to America to help the struggling community in New Orleans. Having entrusted their hope for additional sisters to the Blessed Virgin, the Ursuline superior commissioned a statue of “Our Lady of Prompt Succor” in thanksgiving and began to promote devotion to Mary under this title.
+ In 1810, the completed statue was brought from France and placed in the convent chapel. The sisters have credited Our Lady of Prompt Succor with protecting them in times of fire, during the Battle of New Orleans, and during various storms and hurricanes over the years.
+ Our Lady of Prompt Succor is honored as the patron of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.
+ The Ursuline Sisters were founded in 1535 by Saint Angela Merici in Brescia, Italy. Over the centuries that followed, the community—originally called the Company of St. Ursula—grew quickly and underwent numerous changes, often instigated by Church leaders who were uncomfortable with Saint Angela’s original vision for the community. The first community of Ursuline Sisters was established in what is now the United States in Mobile, Alabama, in 1719.
For prayer and reflection
“Praise the Lord our God, for in Mary his handmaid he has fulfilled his promise of mercy to the house of Israel.”—Communion Antiphon from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On January 8, we also remember Saint Pega. Part of the royal family of the East Angles, she lived as a hermit in Fens, Northamptonshire, England, and eventually became an anchoress near Croyland Abbey. Saint Pega died around the year 719 while on a pilgrimage to Rome.
O Mary, Mother of God, who amid the tribulations of the world, watch over us and over the Church of your Son, be to us and to the Church, truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Make haste to help us all in our necessities, that in this fleeting life you may be our succor, and obtain for us (here ask the particular favor you desire). As you once saved our beloved city from ravaging flames and our country from an invading army, have pity on us and obtain for us protection from hurricanes and all other disasters. Be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death.
(from the website of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.