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Henriette Delille
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Religious Figure
    (1813-November 17, 1862)
    Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Free woman of color and Catholic who dedicated her life to serving others and who founded the religious order, Sisters of the Holy Family in the first half of the 19th Century
    Her mother was a free woman of color and her father was a wealthy, white Frenchman who kept her mother as a type of mistress.
    Subject of the movie, The Courage to Love starring Vanessa Williams
    Trained as a nurse by her mother
    She was basically raised by her mother to follow in her footsteps and become a mistress for a rich white man.
    Before her religious conversion, she had two children out of wedlock.
    The number of members of her order has declined dramatically from over 400 in the 1950's to less than 100 today.
    She is largely forgotten and is little known outside of Louisiana and New Orleans.
    After being confirmed in the Catholic Church she rejected the 'placage' lifestyle which encouraged attractive, mixed-race young women to become concubines (technically common-law wives) to rich white men and instead founded the religious order, Sisters of the Presentation, later Sisters of the Holy Family dedicated to helping others; especially orphans, the elderly and educating children.
    She established the first Catholic nursing home in the United States.
    She fiercely criticized and fought the 'placage' system as exploitative of women and as a violation of the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage.
    Her order taught slaves to read and write when it was illegal to do so.
    Both she and her order won kudos for their efforts to help victims of a yellow fever epidemic.
    A miracle has been credited to her intervention moving the cause for her canonization along.
    Along with Our Lady of Prompt Succor, she has almost become co-patron saint of New Orleans.
    She cared for her mother when she suffered a nervous breakdown.
    Her death was attributed to over work.
    Both of her children died at an early age.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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